(ROCKWALL, TX – Nov. 18, 2016) Actions speak louder than words, particularly when it comes to honoring those who have sacrificed to serve our country. Perhaps no one understands this better than the folks at Patriot PAWS, who celebrated the graduation of five veterans and their service dogs on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
U.S. Army Veterans Alice Crosby, Justin Ross and Jay Springstead, along with U.S. Navy Veteran Ricky Smiddy and U.S. Air Force Veteran Jeremy Webb, spent the week prior to graduation working alongside Patriot PAWS trainers and service dogs before choosing their new furry companion for life, or rather, having the dogs choose them.
Patriot PAWS Service Dogs, a Rockwall based 501(c)3 non-profit began in 2006 to help veterans who suffered injuries while protecting our freedom. Since its inception, Patriot PAWS has placed over 100 dogs with disabled veterans.
“It isn’t enough to say it – we need to be it. We need to be thankful, we need to be grateful, we need to be appreciative, and no one exemplifies that better than the folks with Patriot PAWS,” said Congressman John Ratcliffe, guest speaker at the graduation ceremony. “Our veterans, our heroes, deserve to know that their sacrifice will not be forgotten, and for 10 years the good folks here at Patriot PAWS have strived day in and day out to fulfill their motto, serving those who served by training and providing service dogs at no cost.”
Jerry Owens, a U.S. Air Force veteran who used to raise puppies before joining Patriot PAWS a as a trainer a few years ago, said he enjoys the opportunity the organization has provided him to give back to fellow veterans.
“This is my way of giving back to those veterans who are having so many problems and have lost so much,” Owens said. “It means the world to me that I can help these guys get back to semi-normal again.”
Five-year Patriot PAWS trainer Sharon Terrobona said working with the veterans and service dogs offers a life-changing experience not only for the veterans but for the trainers as well. “It not only has changed their life but it changes our life too, to be able to be involved in something greater than yourself.”
Patriot PAWS graduate Alice Crosby, who served six years in the Army as a chaplain assistant and suffers from PTSD, has been able to enjoy a little peace of mind thanks to her service dog Logan. “Some bad things happened during my time in the service, but Mr. Logan is my silver lining. He’s helping me sleep at night. Everything’s already so much better.”
To learn more about Patriot PAWS Service Dogs, visit their website patriotpaws.org.
Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.
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