Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to hear about an inspirational organization – Operation Freedom Paws – that helps military veterans and others suffering trauma with service dogs. They came to the Campbell Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon to tell us about their organization. Mary Cortani, founder and President of the organization was the keynote speaker. She explained their mission and demonstrated how the dogs help veterans and others suffering from a variety of traumas including Post Tramatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). I learned a great deal about how much these dogs can do – even more than I thought. Many years ago I read a book by Army Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan, that detailed his experiences with a service dog Tuesday. This uplifting book, Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him, opened my eyes about how a service dog could help someone suffering from PTSD. This man’s life was collapsing before he got his service dog Tuesday. Mary Cortani explained they can do even more, like warning their person of impending epileptic seizure or the need for insulin in a diabetic. She is an engaging speaker that exudes commitment to her cause. After visiting their website I discovered she is a CNN Top 10 Hero recipient. Her biography includes military service and extensive experience training and evaluating dogs. You can read more about her compelling story here.
Here are some other things I learned about their organization.
- They have placed over 320 dogs with people in need.
- Most of the dogs they use are from shelters or rescues.
- They have a Canine Education Center where they have offer training for the public.
- They offer kennel services (daycare, boarding, play yard etc.).
- They are looking for volunteers.
- They need money to purchase the facility they use in San Martin, and to support their many services, so they need lots of donations!
I encourage all of you to get involved in some way, big or small. They are simply doing amazing work that helps veterans, trauma sufferers and dogs.
Here are some photos from the event – including a couple of the service dogs.