The Legion’s Ontario Command, its Branches, and Ladies’ Auxiliaries have made a crucial donation to Wounded Warriors Canada (WWC) to help continue its work to pair more Veterans with life-changing service dogs. These exceptional dogs are trained to help reduce Veteran anxiety in public settings, redirect attention to more positive activities, help with nightmare interruption and in stabilizing sleep patterns.
“Through our Operation Service Dog program, we have contributed close to a million dollars in Poppy Funds to help ensure Ontario Veterans who need this sort of specialized care and companionship, receive it,” says Garry Pond, Ontario Command President.
Pond recently presented a $350,000 donation to Phil Ralph, the Director of Health Services at WWC. The funding supports the WWC PTSD Service Dog program which includes everything from training to placement. Since the initial donation by Ontario Command, WWC has facilitated the placement of 11 PTSD Service Dogs to Ontario Veterans, with approximately 30 others currently in training.
“We are beginning to see desired results,” says Ralph. “Operation Service Dog and the incredible partnership with WWC is profoundly impacting not only the lives of Veterans but also the lives of their families.“ While the WWC Service Dog program has had to work through additional challenges due to the pandemic over the past year, Ralph notes they have made good progress. “We were able to add another Service Dog provider in Ontario and have been able to maintain financial support to our providers so they can emerge from this period in good shape.”
Ontario Command and Wounded Warriors Canada began their partnership in 2018 with a view to pairing as many injured Veterans with trained dogs as feasible. Other Legion Provincial Commands such as Nova Scotia/Nunavut and British Columbia/Yukon are also partnering with various organizations to provide Service Dogs to Veterans in their communities.
Nationally, The Royal Canadian Legion has been pushing the federal government for National Standards for Service Dogs for years. While a commitment to create such standards has been made, nothing has been released to date. In the interim, Wounded Warriors Canada has established a set of standards required of all Service Dog providers it works with.
To learn more about the WWC program please visit: https://woundedwarriors.ca/our-programs/ptsd-service-dogs/
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