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A Mission to Serve Veterans

 

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Warrior Canine Connection (WCC) is a pioneering organization that utilizes its Mission Based Trauma Recovery (MBTR) model to support recovering combat Veterans and their families. WCC provides Warriors a regained sense of purpose through the opportunity to engage in a critical military support mission while simultaneously receiving treatment for their own symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). Based on the time-honored tradition of Warriors helping Warriors, their mission is to train highly-skilled service dogs that provide years of mobility and social support to Veterans with disabilities.

History
In 2008, WCC’s Executive Director Rick Yount created the country’s first-ever Warrior service dog training program at the Palo Alto VA’s Men’s Trauma Recovery Program in Menlo Park, CA. The program provided a safe, effective, non-pharmaceutical intervention for the symptoms of PTS and TBI. Based on the its success, the following
year Rick was asked to establish a second program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Warrior Transition Brigade, and in 2010, invited to be part of the PTS and TBI research, treatment and education mission at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) in Bethesda, MD, located on the campus of what is now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC).

In 2011, WCC was founded to expand the availability of the MBTR therapeutic service dog training program at DoD and VA medical treatment facilities throughout the country. Today, WCC’s therapeutic service dog training program provides services to Veterans nationwide through sites at the NICoE, Warrior Transition and Brain Injury Units at Walter Reed, the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Belvoir, the Palo Alto and Menlo Park VA Medical Centers, and the WCC Healing Quarters (HQ) in Germantown, MD.

Impact
In our relatively short history, we’ve made an incredible impact—providing the opportunity for more than 3,700 Service Members and Veterans to benefit from this innovative MBTR therapy, and prepare highly skilled mobility service dogs that have been placed—at no cost—with Veterans with disabilities and their families. Our work has been recognized at the highest levels of the Department of Defense, and is part of the medical protocol at NICoE, the Warrior Transition and Brain Injury Units at WRNMMC, the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Belvoir, as well as the Palo Alto and Menlo Park VA Medical Centers in California.

By 2025, WCC plans to serve 48,000 Service Members and Veterans. Guided by accomplished medical and research directors, WCC has taken a leadership role in scientific research into the neurobiological and behavioral effects of service dog training as a therapeutic modality to mitigate the symptoms of TBI and PTS. We are currently collaborating with military and civilian academic institutions to carry out two DoD-funded research studies on WCC’s MTBR model. With an estimated 446,000 Warriors diagnosed with PTS and TBI in 13 years of war, WCC’s unique MBTR model and modality for strengthening military families through service dog training is desperately needed.

Recognition
WCC and its therapeutic service dog training program have been featured on national and local programs and stations such as ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS News, WETA-TV (PBS), Fox News, and NBC News. Professional articles about WCC’s therapeutic service dog training program have also been published in the Army Medical Department Journal, Social Work Today, Psychiatric Annals, and the 2015 edition of the Handbook for Animal Assisted Therapy. In 2014, WCC was recognized by the George W. Bush Institute as having been particularly impactful to Veterans and/or military families. Out of 46,000 nonprofits serving Veterans, the Institute selected WCC to serve as one of 25 case studies for the Institute’s Model of Excellence.

Partners
Warrior Canine Connection is deeply appreciative of the generous support provided by corporate partners, foundations and thousands of individuals. Some of WCC’s key partners include The Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation, Disabled Veterans of America, the Annenberg Foundation, the Schultz Family Foundation, The Bob Woodruff Foundation, the Naval Postgraduate School Foundation, Heart of Gold Legacy Foundation, Operation Homefront, and many, many others. These generous partners greatly expand WCC’s ability to provide a better quality of life for Warriors suffering from the physical and psychological wounds of war. While WCC’s has largely sustained its mission through generous philanthropic support, increased awareness and the need for evidence-based data associated with service dog training therapy have resulted in federal appropriations funding for research and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs recent approval of legislation to establish a federally-funded VA pilot program on service dog training therapy at up to five VA Medical Centers.