Thanks to Progressive, WCC Gets a New Set of Wheels

It’s only been a few weeks and this new minivan already has a couple hundred new miles on it! Warrior Canine Connection (WCC) accepted the keys to the vehicle in mid-November at a special ceremony in Glen Burnie. The generous donation came courtesy of Progressive’s Keys to Progress vehicle giveaway program, an initiative that aims to give cars to Veterans across the country as a way for the company to give back to people who have given so much for our country.

WCC team members transport puppies and dogs to hundreds of events each year, so the vehicle is a huge help to the organization.

“This new minivan isn’t just a vehicle, it’s a symbol of the invaluable support that Progressive is extending to Warrior Canine Connection,” said Rick Yount, executive director and founder, WCC. “With this addition, our team can enhance its reach, ensuring that we can safely and efficiently bring the comfort and companionship of man’s best friends to support Veterans in need.”

Progressive has been hosting its one-day vehicle giveaway events since 2013 at locations across the country. Employees across the U.S. volunteer to select vehicles to donate, organize fundraising activities to collect month or goods to provide recipient families, and plan memorable vehicle giveaway events for them.

WCC Veteran Service Dog Team Ashley Frantz and service dog Patty were Viriginia recipients of a vehicle from Progressive this year.

Please join us in saying a heartfelt thanks to Progressive for its amazing generosity!

Paw-some Holiday Gift Ideas

Looking for some holiday gift ideas for fellow dog lovers or perhaps even your beloved four-legged? Look no fur-ther—we have some ideas for you that are sure to please even the pickiest on your list.

2024 WCC Calendars
Get ready for a tail-wagging year with our 2024 calendars featuring adorable WCC dogs—a perfect holiday treat for dog lovers! Each month is packed with paw-sitively delightful photos that’ll fetch you joy.

WCC Merch
Deck yourself out in our stylish WCC swag! From accessories and apparel to sweatshirts and hats, our merch is not only fashionable but also a paw-erful way to show your support for WCC.

Fleecy Fetch Dog Toy
Looking for a paw-some dog toy? Check out the WCC HuggleFleece® Camo ball, a collaboration between WCC and HuggleHounds! Every purchase supports Warrior Canine Connection.

You can find all these items and more on WCC’s online shop.

Consider making a donation to WCC as a fur-bulous gift—whether in remembrance of a loved one, human or canine. It’s a gesture that’ll warm hearts and wag tails alike!

Happy holidays from the entire WCC pack!

New Faces at WCC

We are excited to introduce our newest members of the WCC pack, who bring a wealth of experience and passion to our mission. Join us in extending a warm welcome to these dedicated individuals as they help us serve our Veterans. 


Jennifer Ashley, Events Coordinator
We welcomed Jennifer Ashley to the WCC team at the end of August as our new Events Coordinator. In her role, she will be the mastermind behind the planning and logistics of all the events WCC hosts and participates in throughout the year. With our involvement in hundreds of events each year, Jennifer is primed to stay very busy.   

Before joining WCC, Jennifer supported both the International Services and Service to the Armed Forces lines of service at the American Red Cross. Inspired by the monthly visits from the therapy dogs at Walter Reed, she was drawn to work with an organization that included service dogs in its mission to aid recovering Service Members and Veterans. When Jennifer saw a job opening at WCC, she said it felt like serendipity; she instantly knew she had to apply.  

Jennifer shared, “I know how strong the animal-human connection is, and this position married my previous role of providing military support with my love of animals, so it was a total win-win.”

Jennifer earned her bachelor’s in business management and a minor in human development & family studies from the Pennsylvania State University. She has more than 10 years of experience working and volunteering for non-profits where she developed her skills in event planning, stakeholder engagement, development, volunteer management, and communication strategies.    

Outside of work, Jennifer, a huge animal lover, enjoys spending time with her best buddies, rescue dogs Duke and Moby, 6 and 8, playing tennis, and getting creative with all kinds of arts & crafts projects.  

Lisa Kilmer, Service Dog Training Instructor
Lisa Kilmer joined the WCC team as a Service Dog Training Instructor in September at its University of Pennsylvania program location in Philadelphia. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience working with animals with her, as she previously worked as a zookeeper. In her role, she had the opportunity to really dive into the training world by working with creatures big and small.  

Several years ago, Lisa turned her attention to dog training and has had the opportunity to work with dogs of all ages, breeds, temperaments, and behaviors through private lessons, as well as group settings. She realized her passion for working with dogs and loved helping others form a long and lasting bond with their dogs. She’s excited to be taking that experience to help train service dogs while working side by side with Veterans.  

“Dogs just don’t have a judgmental bone in their body,” said Lisa Kilmer. “They’re patient and understanding and in tune with human emotions. And they’re funny, too.” 

Lisa is a graduate of Rider University, where she received her bachelor’s in environmental science. 

Outside of WCC, Lisa and Bindi, her trusty Golden Retriever, who is a certified therapy dog, can be found volunteering with Angel Readers, a local volunteer group that offers a program called Angel on a Leash, where kids read to dogs and in the process, can overcome anxiety and nervousness while reading, as well as their fear of dogs. In addition to Bindi, Lisa also has a second dog, Spike, a Lab/Pit mix. When not working, she enjoys hiking and spending time at the beach. 


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Service dogs give veterans a ‘purpose’ to get up every day: Buddy Niner

FOX News’ Shannon Bream sits down with Warrior Canine Connection executive director Rick Yount and veteran Buddy Niner to discuss the organization’s ongoing efforts to provide veterans with service dogs. Watch the full story on Fox News Sunday.

Warrior Canine Connection trains dogs for veterans

As we celebrate Veterans Day this weekend, one organization is working to help train service dogs for veterans who need them. It’s all through the organization Warrior Canine Connection. Watch the full story on Fox 5 Atlanta.

Progressive donates minivan to group who transports service dogs to veterans

GLEN BURNIE, Md. — A group who trains puppies to be service dogs for veterans is getting some much needed help of their own.

On Wednesday Warrior Canine Connection received a new mini-van.

The group is based in Germantown over in Montgomery County. Check out the full story on WMAR News 2 Baltimore here.

Maryland’s veterans secretary on suicide prevention; Training service dogs for service members

Preventing suicide among veterans is personal for state Secretary of Veteran Affairs’ Anthony Woods. He lost his mother, an Air Force veteran, to suicide five years ago. We hear how Woods is expanding the reach of mental-health services. Read Woods’ commentary in the Baltimore Banner.

The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7 at 988. Veterans can dial 988 and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.

Plus, Warrior Canine Connection enlists veterans to train service dogs for service members. We speak with WCC founder Rick Yount, and Tina Houser, a U.S. Army veteran who was matched with her service dog, Erik, a year ago. Learn how to become a WCC puppy parent. Check out the full story in On the Record on WYPR 88.1 with Sheilah Kast.

‘Chief’ the dog is helping veterans in honor of Ron Rivera’s late dad

Commanders Coach Ron Rivera’s dad was named Eugenio, who served two tours in Vietnam and beyond. And a future Warrior Canine Connection service dog was recently named in his honor. Check out the full story from WUSA9 News.

Warrior Spotlight: Molly O’Connell’s Journey of Healing and Hope

Three years ago, as she was being rushed into emergency surgery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center during the COVID pandemic, doctors told U.S. Air Force Major (ret.) Molly O’Connell and her husband that there was a chance she may not walk again — it would depend on the severity of the damage to her spinal cord.  

Molly recently shared her story with us after attending Warrior Canine Connection’s (WCC) Mission Based Trauma Recovery (MBTR) training program in partnership with Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). We are privileged to share her warrior story below.  

Molly enlisted in the Air Force after high school and spent 20 years serving her country. During the first 10 years of her military career, she was enlisted in mortuary services. She then went on to get her nursing degree and became an officer, where she spent an additional 10 years caring for others.  

Molly had always had spinal issues during her service and deployments. She had undergone previous surgeries, including a neck fusion and spine surgery. But in 2020, she was diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome, a diagnosis that means she had compressed nerves at the base of her spinal column causing severe pain and paralysis from the waist down. She underwent emergency surgery at Walter Reed. 

“It took two years for me to start walking again,” said Molly, “I completed intensive physical therapy and came home in a motorized wheelchair. My husband pulled in the driveway and showed me the ramp that the VA installed for me at the front door of the house, and right then I swore I was going to walk again and remove that ramp, and I did.” 

Walking again was a tremendous feat, but despite overcoming that huge physical hurdle, Molly says it took a toll on her mental health due to her “new normal,” and she became extremely depressed. This change meant she had to walk away from her nursing career and several other hobbies she had. 

“Even though my body was getting better, mentally, I was not doing well at all,” says Molly. “You can do all the exercises in the world, but that doesn’t help when you are feeling alone and down.” 

She started seeing a therapist at the Steven A. Cohen Clinic who told her about Warrior Canine Connection’s (WCC) Mission Based Trauma Recovery (MBTR) training program. Molly says the mere mention of dogs had her immediately interested. 

She attended WCC’s eight-week Mission Based Trauma Recovery training program, helping to train service dogs in training for other Veterans. But during the process, she learned a lot about herself. 

“MBTR has completely turned my life around … I want to live now, I want to do stuff, I want to become an ambassador for WCC,” said Molly. “I am obsessed with animals and being able to be social again really helped me mentally. I think there’s so much to be said for people who come back from deployment — they might have medical wounds that are going to heal, but being able to return to life and be part of a community again is a huge part of it.” 

Molly also credits her husband, Vince Holtmann, who served eight years in the Air Force, with much of her recovery. Her physical challenges meant they could no longer ride bikes and work out together, like they used to. Together, they attended Wounded Warrior Project’s program, Project Odyssey, a couple’s retreat of sorts, where they were able to spend quality time and reconnect. 

“The one-week program [Project Odyssey] focused on ways to re-engage and communicate with each other while more importantly, to relearn one another after life-changing events. Both WCC and WWP have been awesome. They’ve helped give me a sense of purpose. Before entering the military, I often wondered why people leave the service and keep talking about years and years later. I never thought that would be me, but there is that sense of camaraderie you miss … it’s like a big family with so much in common to talk about that a lot of people in the outside world can’t relate to … I was still missing that and being around other Veterans and sharing common ground helped me feel like I wasn’t going through it alone.” 

After completing WCC’s MBTR training, Molly signed up as a volunteer and is helping to train future service dogs. 

Molly also shares her name with WCC’s Molly, an honor she accepted after her husband nominated her as a namesake for the yellow Labrador Retriever and current service dog in training. 

To learn more about WWP’s programs, visit For more information about WCC’s MBTR program, visit 

 Cheers, Tears and Tail Wags: Meet WCC’s Class of 2023!

It was just a few weeks ago that Warrior Canine Connection’s Class of 2023 celebrated its paw-some graduation. The ceremony, which was hosted virtually, had tails wagging and eyes misty.

These incredible assistance dog teams shared snippets of their military journeys and heartwarming tales of their newfound furry partners. It was a celebration, a round of applause, and a good ol’ dose of inspiration all wrapped into one fantastic virtual event.

This year’s graduating class is comprised of Veterans and Veteran families and 21 assistance dogs, including service dogs, facility dogs and military family support dogs.

Among the graduates is U.S. Coast Guard Retired Petty Officer Second Class James Riley who shared the following about his service dog, Ashley.

“I love the mission, and I love that she’s made a difference in other Veterans’ live,” said Riley. “It’s powerful, she’s like my rock.”

A highlight from the virtual ceremony included keynote speaker General (Ret.) James Mattis. During his heartfelt address, General Mattis, who has a WCC dog named after him, shared some wisdom that left us inspired.

“WCC’s mission is one that carries with it a sense of trust and purpose,” said General Mattis. “Knowing the dogs are trained by fellow veterans instills that same sense of trust at the heart of our military. It’s the principle that when the chips are down, you can count on the comrade to your left and right on the battlefield. So too can you trust in WCC that they took seriously the mission to prepare these loyal, steadfast comrades in arms for their buddies. Equally and perhaps more importantly is that the veterans training WCC dogs are themselves able to find a new sense of purpose and often times peace long after their military service.”

We also celebrated some other heroes of the WCC community — our Puppy Parents! These amazing volunteers pour their hearts into caring for, training and showering love upon our service dogs in training for their crucial first two years of life. Their unwavering dedication and the sacrifices they make play a monumental role in the success of WCC’s programs.

Following the virtual ceremony, WCC held an in-person celebration at its Healing Quarters. Despite the soggy weather brought in by Tropical Storm Ophelia, more than 300 Veteran Service Dog Teams, Puppy Parents, namesakes, volunteers and supporters of WCC turned out to celebrate together. A great time was had by all.

Did you miss the ceremony or want the watch the 2023 WCC Graduation video again? You can check it out here.

Join us in congratulating WCC’s Class of 2023 — may your journeys together be filled with countless adventures and endless belly rubs!