Tag Archives: veteran affairs

May: Memorials, Military Appreciation, and Reflection

National Military Spouse Day was recognized May 6, 2016. Each year on that day the United States acknowledges the significant contributions, support, and sacrifices of spouses of members of the Armed Forces.

Armed Forces Day was recognized May 21, 2016. Created in 1939 to replace the separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days, this single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.

And of course, Memorial Day, celebrated this year on Monday, May 30 honors all men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

As your Dogs on Defense Military Pet Tails Blog Editor, I salute everyone in all branches of the United States service and humbly want to offer a sincere thank you. I myself have never served in the military, but a number of people in my family have proudly done so.

My gratitude and appreciation for United States service members and their families runs deep. I hold enormous reverence towards each of you, in every military branch for your dedication and the selfless service you give to our fine country and to regular citizens like me. I have learned over time how blessed I am to have you representing me.

  • As a young woman I curiously watched an old man salute our United States flag in the morning. I learned years later that “Izzy” made that same salute every single morning upon coming outdoors. Izzy was on a ship in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked.
  • On 9-11, I watched dumbstruck from outside my office building — Tower One of the World Trade Center — as one plane after another struck the buildings, eventually killing colleagues and friends of mine. For the first time, I understood survivor’s guilt. As it turns out, I had seen the iconic New York City skyline I’d always known for the last time.
  • As a woman some years later I encountered a different old man who chatted with me about matters including the modern state of warfare. “Bill” was troubled that enemies no longer clearly identified themselves while fighting and instead hid in caves. Bill had been captured at 17 years old by the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge.

It is my distinct honor to fly the United States flag everyday outside of the home I share with my beloved husband, himself a onetime U.S. Navy cryptographer.

And, as a regular citizen, it is also my privilege to serve as the Military Pet Tails Blog Editor for Dogs on Deployment. It enables me to lend my skills and support to a cause that I wholeheartedly believe in. The efforts of this organization are vitally important.

Anyone wondering how to support our troops can consider lending his or her time and talents to Dogs on Deployment. Volunteers are always needed and serve in a variety of capacities. You do not need experience with or knowledge of military life.

I am proof that you don’t have to be in the military to support the military or its causes, and I can tell you that my experience with DoD is very rewarding. I love serving as your Editor, and sincerely hope to be able to do so for many years to come.

Dogs on Deployment Military Pet Tails Blog Editor, Susan Nitka, with Lucy, her Jack Russell Terrier. Susan handles all the writing, while Lucy manages the editorial calendar.
Dogs on Deployment Military Pet Tails Blog Editor, Susan Nitka, with Lucy, her Jack Russell Terrier.  Susan handles all the writing, while Lucy manages the editorial calendar.

Thank you to my Dogs on Deployment colleagues and friends for this opportunity. God bless all the United States military, and especially those we remember on Memorial Day.

 

Bailey: Another “Tail” of a Successful Pet Chit!

Everyone knows that Dogs on Deployment is there for service members when they need to find a safe, happy home when they are deployed. But, did you know that we are there for other things? For example, did you know that we can help provide financial assistance for veterinary care, or for emergencies?

Bailey 4When Adam and Rachel Revolinski were attending the Yellow Ribbon Program they ran across our organization. Dogs on Deployment was there to explain the services we provide to soldiers and veterans alike. Having just added a new puppy, Bailey, to their family, they were eager to find out how Dogs on Deployment might be able to help.

Once they got the chance to learn more about how we help those in the military provide for their animals while they serve our country, both were very impressed, especially for single pet owners. “It is hard to say goodbye to your pet during a deployment for several months,” Rachel said. “But to know that you could provide the with a good home while you’re away is a good feeling.”

Bailey 1Remembering Dogs on Deployment’s services is why, when they needed financial assistance to get Bailey spayed, they turned to Dogs on Deployment. They applied for the Pet Chit Financial Aid, and after filling out the necessary forms, Adam and Rachel were granted the money to pay for Bailey’s procedure.

After the procedure, Bailey recovered quickly. Rachel said that they did their best to keep their puppy calm so that they wouldn’t have to put the “white cone of shame” on her, but in the end, Bailey’s energy couldn’t be contained, and they had to concede. As it turns out, Bailey looked adorable in the cone, anyway!

These days, Bailey is growing up. She’s 65 pounds, and not done yet. She is energetic, but loving and gentle, and she surprises the Revolinskis everyday with her silliness.

Bailey 2Rachel recalls how when Bailey was younger, she was scared of loud noises, such as the icemaker. She would eye the untrustworthy refrigerator with trepidation, anytime Rachel went to it for ice. One day, she gave Bailey an ice cube after a particularly long walk, and she absolutely loved it. Now, whenever Rachel goes to get ice, Bailey is quickly ready to accept an ice cube of her own!

There are many services Dogs on Deployment provides for pet owners in the military, besides helping find homes for pets while you are deployed. We offer services such as Pet Chit Financial Aid that can help military families pay for their pet’s medical care.

PetsBestLogo

We are able to help pets like Bailey thanks to our partnership with Pet’s Best Insurance. Reach out to us if you think we can help in any way, and we will do our best to match your needs with our services. Every animal counts!

DoD in the Florida Citrus Parade

Everyone loves a parade! When it’s a nationally recognized one, like the Florida Citrus Parade, it’s easy to get even more excited.

tala parade2This year, parade organizers asked Dogs on Deployment to march alongside national companies, sponsors and organizations, in all their citrus-float-glory, to help raise awareness for all that we do for active duty men and women, and their pets.

It was an exciting, fun-filled day!

The volunteers were out in full force, including all the kids they could muster.  jessie parade

Announcing the Dogs on Deployment Military Pet of the Year 2015 Contest

Photo Credit: Blue Amrich
Photo Credit: Blue Amrich

We all love Midas, Dogs on Deployment’s mascot. I mean, who wouldn’t? Look at that face!

But, did you know that your dog could be our mascot? In our annual Military Pet of the Year (MPOTY) competition, we ask our military members to show off their pets, and their families. Then, as a community, we chose a new dog to represent our mission.

Midas_9065
Photo Credit: Blue Amrich

Last year, it was service dog, Midas. Owner, Juan Valdez speaks highly of the experience of being DoD’s MPOTY.

“The most important part of being the mascot for DoD was being able to share Midas’s story with an audience,” he says. “Being the mascot gave us the platform to inform people of the benefits of using dogs to help heal people.”

He adds that the experience wasn’t all for Midas and helping others: “being the mascot has given me direction in life; now I can help veterans get the help they need in order to succeed in the future.”

Your application must include documentation proving military status, basic information, a photo for the contest and 500 words on why your dog should be Dogs on Deployment’s 2015 Military Pet of the Year and Mascot.

Example topics: how did you get the dog, any difficulties you’ve had with the dog and your service commitments, any illness/accidents your dog has overcome, how do you exhibit being a responsible pet owner in the military, etc. This essay will be used as a caption for your dog’s photo during voting.

Your entry will be reviewed by the Dogs on Deployment Board to ensure compliance with our below requirements. Any entry which does not meet the below requirements will be disqualified from the competition. Entries may be made beginning January 17, 2015 at 7 am EST and be submitted until January 31, 2015 at 7:00 pm EST at which time submissions will be closed. Voting will commence from February 7, 2015 at 7:00 am EST and close on February 15, 2015 at 7:00 pm EST, and each person is allowed one vote within a 24-hour period.  The Dogs on Deployment Board will then pick the winner from the top three finalists receiving the most amounts of popular votes. The winner will be announced on March 1st at 7:00 am EST.

Code of a Military Pet Owner

I’m a US Military Member and pet owner. I promise to always have a plan for them. I promise never to abandon them. I promise to keep them healthy and vaccinated. I promise to neuter and/or spay them.* I promise to train and socialize them. I promise to love them as unconditionally as they love me. I promise to be a good pet owner while serving my country. I promise this.

Entry and Photo Requirements:

  • Dogs only
  • May be any adult breed dog (over 1 year old)
  • Dog must be spayed or neutered unless involved with responsible dog showing or breeding
  • Dog must be owned by an active duty or reservist military member or honorably discharged veteran
  • Must be a family pet who meets our “Code of a Military Pet Owner” (see below)
  • Photo must be high resolution (prefer no phone photos, +200dpi, larger than 1200px by 1200px, print quality)
  • Portrait or candid style photo of military owned dog
  • No more than two dogs may be shown in the photo for a single entry
  • No humans allowed in photo
  • Professional photographs preferred
  • Photo must be original to owner
  • Photo permissions must be given to Dogs on Deployment for reuse
  • Contestants may not pay for votes, or use online pay-advertising to promote voting
  • Must be willing to be photographed in uniform with your dog for Dogs on Deployment imagery
  • Must be willing to maintain a Facebook page for Dogs on Deployment’s 2015 Military Pet of the Year and Mascot for one year
  • Must be willing to attend local events and speak on behalf of Dogs on Deployment to potential media contacts
Photo Credit: Blue Amrich
Photo Credit: Blue Amrich

Vet Noise Makes Some Noise for Dogs on Deployment

YVBC puppy with banner
This little guy makes a perfect addition to the DoD booth, don’t you think?

More often than not, our fundraising events are amazing. We have fantastic volunteers, super supporters, and of course, adorable animals. Still, every once in a while, an event is worth stopping to highlight because it’s extra special.

A lot of planning, organization and coordination went into the fundraiser at Young Veterans Brewing Company, last month. It started with the Hampton Roads Military Relocation Team (HRMRT), a local real estate company that works with assisting military families.

Hampton Roads Military Relocation Team presents a check to our volunteers after the event
Hampton Roads Military Relocation Team presents a check to our volunteers after the event

HRMT (FB) has established a foundation, Vet Noise,  which works exclusively with the Young Veterans Brewing Company to hold monthly fundraising events for veteran and military charities.

At each of these fundraisers, the brewing company donates a percentage of its sales to the charity of choice for the month, as well as hosting the event.

Suzanne Bannister, HRMT’s PR liaison, met our Norfolk area coordinator, Myra Smith, at a Tidewater Officer Spouse’s Association meeting, and the rest is history. She couldn’t wait to get involved with Dogs on Deployment.

YVBC volunteer group
Volunteers enjoying the great day, and taking a moment to pose in front of our info booth.

So, Dogs on Deployment worked with Vet Noise, Young Veterans Brewing Company and HRMT to coordinate one of their monthly events. October worked out best for everyone, and what a month it was!

Even the local media took notice of just what a special event this was to be. A local newspaper editor helped with press releases to her contacts in the surrounding communities, and we got a spot on the televised news.

yvbc great dane
Big dogs, little dogs, all dogs welcome at this event!

On October 26, all the planning came together, and from 3pm to 7pm, we watched the community come together. A live band played, there was a massage company donating time, and a bakery donating revenue from its sales.

The raffle items that HRMT donated was truly astounding: everything from pet supply gift baskets, to spa packages and tools from Lowe’s. We even had Broadway Show tickets, donated by a DoD volunteer, to give away. All totaled, over $10,000 of prizes were available.

Costume Contest YVBC
Pretty sure this guy deserves a prize!

Plus, it was a pet friendly event! Not only was Lizzi London there to showcase her new, handmade pet clothes, but the pet costume contest, just in time for Halloween, was a huge hit!

The winner walked off with a prize package of London’s exclusive designs.

YVBC puppy
Cute!

Since Vet Noise (FB) started in May, the DoD event is the largest in attendance that they’ve had. We can’t help but think that we had something to do with that.

We are so thankful and proud to have partnered with Vet Noise and HRMT, and we are grateful to say that we raised $1,200 in one afternoon of fun. Thanks!

If you have a brewery, and want to get involved in a similar fundraising event, consider our Brews, Dogs and Veterans Program!

Helping Veterans and their Pets: Information for Veteran Assistance Programs

By Alisa Johnson, President Dogs on Deployment

Lady and Copper's photo shared across social media sites to try to find a suitable foster home.
A veteran’s dogs whom we worked to help find placement.

Shortly after Dogs on Deployment started gaining steam in recruiting volunteers and military members began hearing about our program for the first time, so did the Veterans’ Affair (VA) Department in Virginia Beach, VA. The first veteran we helped was homeless, car-less, but not dog-less. With two Jack Russell Terriers that meant the world to him, he was unable to enroll in the VA Department’s homeless domicile and job rehabilitation program and care for them. He had to find a place for his dogs to live in order for him to receive help. Without Dogs on Deployment’s, and other organizations, businesses and individuals’ help, he would have had to either give up his dogs, or remain homeless. Thanks to countless supporters, he was able to find temporary care for his dogs so that he could enroll in the VA’s program; getting food, shelter and a chance to start again.

Since then, Dogs on Deployment has helped several other veterans facing the same or similar situation. We are usually contacted by the VA case worker who has one question: How do we proceed to help this veteran? The below information serves as a guideline how a veteran and their pets can be assisted through our program.

Find out the veteran’s situation. Every situation, person and pet is unique, and it is important to understand the veteran’s relationship to their pets, and then determine what the future holds for that veteran in order to give good advice in moving forward.

Can they provide long term care for their pets? Is rehoming a better option? While it may be obvious that a pet owner loves their pets, they may not be in the position to give long term care for their pets. Prolonged homelessness, mental stability, financial future, illness and other life factors contribute to whether or not a person is, or will be, in the best position to give long term care for a pet. If enrollment in the VA or treatment for a condition is anticipated to take an extended period, or a full recovery is not anticipated, permanently rehoming a pet may be a fair consideration. Though hard, there are many rescue groups that would be willing to help a veteran find a permanent and loving home for their pet.

A veteran and his cat. ©Pets for Patriots, Inc.; all rights reserved.
A veteran and his cat.
©Pets for Patriots, Inc.; all rights reserved.

Is short-term fostering a feasible alternative? If a veteran is expected to make a fully recovery in a reasonable amount of time, fostering may be a great alternative to permanently rehoming a pet, as this would give the veteran the ability to receive needed treatment, time to concentrate on recovery, while ensuring peace of mind that their pet is in safe keeping for the time being. Veterans may rely on their friends, family or other relations to ask for aid in helping care for their pets during their treatment. If no one is available, organizations like Dogs on Deployment exist to provide a network of volunteer foster homes prepared to take on a veteran’s pet.

Understand what Dogs on Deployment does. Dogs on Deployment is a networking site; we do not arrange boarding between Pet Owners and DoD Boarders. It is the responsibility of the Pet Owner to contact DoD Boarders in their area and choose one that will be the right fit for their pet. This may be difficult for a veteran who may not have access to or experience with computers or the internet. Because of this, a veteran may need a representative to assist in creating an account and contacting possible homes. Any one whom the veteran gives permission to may act on their behalf; the VA social worker, a friend, family member or even a volunteer. The acting-pet owner may create an account and relay any possible homes to the veteran for discussion of possibilities. There is no guarantee that every Pet Owner will find a DoD Boarder through our network, but using our site proactively will increase the chances of finding the right DoD Boarder.

How to make an account on behalf of a veteran. In order to make an account on behalf of a veteran, visit www.dogsondeployment.org and click on “Create Account.” The registration form requires basic information regarding the veteran’s personal information, pets’ information and service information. Dogs on Deployment requires a form of ID and a DD-214 Honorable Discharge form. Ensure that all information is accurate and provide an email address and/or phone that can readily be accessed by either the acting-pet owner or the veteran. Give an honest best guess for how long boarding may be required and try to anticipate a lengthy boarding period if one may occur. Uploading a photo of the pet will increase chances of finding a suitable DoD Boarder as the photos are shared on our Facebook page.

Contacting and choosing a DoD Boarder. Dogs on Deployment has outlined a detailed guide on how to find and choose a suitable DoD Boarder. Once a DoD Boarder has agree to consider a pet, the veteran should ensure that a contract is completed between them and the DoD Boarder. It is recommended the DoD Boarder be given the ability to contact the VA to make inquires about the veteran, should communication between the veteran and the DoD Boarder cease for any reason. Should the DoD Boarder be unable to provide care for the pet for any reason during boarding, an emergency plan should be made in case such an occasion arise. It is important to find a DoD Boarder that understands the veteran’s situation and is able to be flexible should the need for boarding be extended for any reason.

A veteran whom Dogs on Deployment pledged $300 to help with his dog's emergency medical treatment.
A veteran whom Dogs on Deployment pledged $300 to help with his dog’s emergency medical treatment. ©Pets for Patriots, Inc.; all rights reserved.

Emergency funds and placement. Should a veteran be absolutely unable to care for their pet, or unable to find an immediate DoD Boarder as needed, Dogs on Deployment provides a Pet Chit Financial Assistance Program to assist. Dogs on Deployment can provide financial aid up to $500 for help with pet care. This money, which is funded solely by donations, can be used towards boarding costs, if a DoD Boarder cannot be found, or even for help with basic pet care: food, veterinarian expenses, vaccinations, transportation or other necessary supplies.

With care and patience, a veteran can be given the special opportunity to not only receive needed treatment or assistance, but also be able to keep their beloved pets. Pets can be essential to helping a person heal physically, mentally and emotionally. Some of these veterans loose everything, and with a little help we can give them the chance to keep something very precious.