Wounds come in many shapes and sizes. Some are disfiguring on the outside. Some are disfiguring on the inside, where no one can see. These are the wounds hardest to treat. Soldiers coming home with post traumatic stress syndrome, brain injuries, and other “invisible wounds” often feel there is no help. In a small beginning, wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars are getting help from an unexpected place:– the Green River Correctional Complex or GRCC in Central City, Kentucky.
A new program builds on the dog rescue program at GRCC that started in 2004 as a partnership between the facility and Jack’s Place Animal Rescue. The rescue program called “Death Row Dogs” pairs a dog with an inmate trainer for a twelve week training program. The dog must pass an American Kennel Club Good Citizenship Certification test to become eligible for adoption. To date, Death Row Dogs has 564 canine graduates.
Warden Randy White, an Army National Guard veteran, challenged the program to find a way to help wounded soldiers in a therapeutic setting.
Serendipitously, Sgt. Debra Lamere, a member of the 101st Airborne and an Afghanistan veteran, assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit at Ft. Campbell, came into the picture to provide the missing link between Death Row Dogs and wounded warriors. She launched a program called Dogs2Vets. Lamere has her own canine friend, Desiree, her adopted pal, shown at left.
On Wednesday, the first six doggy graduates of Dogs2Vets met their new owners. In two cases, families of soldiers still deployed came to accept the dog on behalf of their family member.
Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown was on hand to share the occasion. With all due respect to Secretary Brown – the dogs and the vets were the stars of the day. In this case, the pictures tell the story.
Photos and information for this story were provided by Todd Henson, Public Information Officer, Department of Corrections.
To make a donation to Dogs2Vets, go to www.dogs2vets.com
To assist with Jack's no kill shelter, see www.jacksplace.petfinder.com and more on Death Row Dogs at www.deathrowdogs.petfinder.com