A service dog program to benefit soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder is a worthwhile charity to support, said Phil Goodwin, O’Fallon City Clerk and member of the O’Fallon Rotary Club.
Goodwin recently accepted a check from Purina for $25,000 to go toward “This Able Veteran.” The program is based in Carbondale.
“Twenty-five thousand just goes for one dog,” Goodwin said.
That includes the cost to breed, raise, train and take care of the dog (food, vaccinations, medical care, housing, special equipment).
The program has been proven to help veterans cope successfully with PTSD, including symptoms such as depression, nightmares and social anxiety.
Through its Trauma Resiliency Program, dogs are trained to be alerted to the symptoms. The program helps teach veterans coping skills, too.
This Able Veteran provides these services at no cost to veterans. Veterans are guests for the training sessions, and their meals and housing are also taken care of for the three weeks.
This Able Veteran also has a PTSD Academy, which puts more specially trained dogs into service.
The O’Fallon Rotary Club is very supportive of the program. Alderman Gene McCoskey, who is a vice-president at Nestle Purina Pet Care Co. in St. Louis, helped secure the donation for the club. Purina is also behind the program.
Goodwin explained that a previous Rotary district governor from Mount Vernon had made This Able Veteran one of his pet projects for more than two years.
“We’ve continued it. We’re dedicated to keeping this service going,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin, who retired from the Air Force in 1980 after 29 years, including a tour during the Vietnam War, said helping military veterans is important.
“When people came home, in the ’60s and ’70s, they were spit on. Now, nothing is too good for our troops who serve. This is for people with psychological and physical injuries,” he said.
He said the group is very careful about the dogs, which are mostly Labradors and Golden Retrievers, he said. They will not give one to anyone who has abused dogs.
For more information, visit the website, thisableveteran.org.