A service dog is more than just a veteran’s best friend, it’s their lifeline — and without organizations like Alpha Bravo Canine (ABC), many heroes wouldn’t have the support they need.
“Alpha Bravo Canine is Philadelphia’s first and only 501(c)3 organization that donates service dogs with US veterans suffering from debilitating medical and psychological problems as a result of their active combat duty,” the organization explains on their website. And ABC is filling a huge need, as 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder and/or depression.
Thanks to Jennifer Green, the ABC founder and director of training, and Tracy Ruepp, ABC’s puppy raiser and puppy raising coordinator, a lot of personalized work and care goes into these donations. And the effort shows. Before ABC, many veterans struggling with mental health had trouble doing critical day-to-day activities, like sleeping or leaving the house. But, with the organization’s help, they often form a renewed appreciation for life.
“When you are matched with a service dog, you are not just getting a ‘dog.’ You are getting a highly trained, caring, professional and competent team of people who care about you. Yes, that is right. They care about you,” Adam, an ABC veteran, says.
Problem-solving and brainstorming new ways to help veterans is one of Tracy’s favorite parts of her job. “Together with the director of training, we have been able to expand and move the training program forward to fit the ever-growing needs of our organization and ultimately benefit the veteran community.”
Frank, an Army veteran, recalls how Jennifer worked with him in his home as he waited to be paired with his now service dog, Lydia. “[Jennifer] has the greatest approach to pairing dog and human,” Frank says. “Once I went through the mental health and medical conditions requirement vetting phase, I was invited to start training. And once that was completed, we did real-life training in real-world handling situations.”
Another ABC veteran, Dennis, who served in the Marine Corps, remembers meeting Jennifer at the mall to observe how his service dog Oscar would react to him. “Jennifer Green is a professional in her field and is very demanding when it comes to placing the right dog with the right veteran,” he says. “I do not have the words to show my appreciation to Jennifer and the entire Alpha Bravo organization.”
Alpha Bravo Canine’s success stories prove that the right dog can make a life-saving difference in a veteran’s life.
“While my PTSD is not cured (nor will it ever be), my service dog, Cooper, helps me to mitigate my symptoms and assists me in getting through the day without five to seven anxiety attacks and flashbacks, which made life almost unlivable,” Mike, a Marine Corps veteran, says. “I can honestly say that after meeting Jenn, being introduced to Alpha Bravo Canine and this program, is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time.”
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