For U.S. veterans Thomas Mondares, U.S. Army (Ret.), Ben Kilhefner, U.S. Navy (Ret.) and James Root, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Aug. 1 will celebrate the graduation of life-long canine companions that will help alleviate stress, anxiety, sleepless nights, hypervigilence, panic attacks and other symptoms related to their post-military combat medical diagnosis.
Shelter to Soldier, a San Diego-based 501c3 non-profit organization that rescues shelter dogs and trains them to become certified psychiatric service companions for post-9/11 U.S. combat veterans suffering from PTSD and/or TBI (www.sheltertosoldier.org), will perform graduation ceremonies to partner Mondares with service dog Sandy, Kilhefner with service dog Tank and Root with service dog Calver. The graduation will be at 10 a.m. at Poway Veteran’s Park, located at 14135 Midland Road in Poway.
STS is supported solely through charitable contributions from corporations, charitable foundations and private individuals. STS Founder Graham Bloem explains;
“We are so proud of these three amazing individuals that have come so far and push through their daily struggles,” said STS Founder Graham Bloem. “Our team at STS is incredibly happy that we are able to assist these very deserving veterans by providing them with highly trained, loving service dogs. We are equally as happy that we were able to change the fate for these special pups. This couldn’t have been done without the support of our community and our sponsors. A special thank you to Ranch & Coast Magazine who sponsored Sandy and to the Wintercreek Foundation who sponsored Tank and Calver. We are honored to serve our nations military on the home front.”
Every day on average, 22 U.S. veterans and one 1 active duty service member commit suicide, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is one precious life lost every 63 minutes. In the past year alone, the number of diagnosed cases of PTSD in the military jumped 50 percent, and this represents cases that have been diagnosed. Studies estimate that one in every five military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is suffering from PTSD. To learn more about veteran-support services provided by STS, call 855-CUS-TMK9 (855-287-8659) for a confidential interview regarding eligibility.