Tag Archive for: Mission Based Trauma Recovery

Army Veteran Finds Healing in Helping Others

Today we introduce you to U.S. Army Reserve Sergeant First Class (Ret.) Paul Kelly, who’s had a unique military career. Post-retirement, he has devoted his time and talents to multiple volunteer efforts—all to benefit his fellow Veterans.

Paul Kelly was always intrigued by the military; his father was a U.S. Marine, and his uncles served, too. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1979 and spent four years on active duty as an infantry solider in Northern Germany before becoming an electrician for the federal government, where he built a 30-year career.

But after the events of 9/11, Paul was compelled to re-enlist—20 years after his original service—only, this time in the U.S. Army Reserves, where he served as a construction engineer and a basic electricity instructor. During that time, he completed a one-year deployment to Iraq in 2003 and three deployments to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2012, where he worked as a construction engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers before retiring in 2015.  

It was during his last deployment that Paul was injured in the line of duty. He shared, “I got the Purple Heart … it’s not the kind of award you want, but I’m honored to have received it.”

A family man at heart, after retiring from his 30-year electrician career in 2018, Paul enjoyed spending more time with his wife, Annie, two grown children and his three grandchildren. He also dove into volunteer efforts, including serving as a mentor with Wounded Warrior Project’s (WWP) Mentor Program; founding the Poolesville Military Support Group; acting as Veteran Liaison with Frederick County Hospice; and helping to train service dogs through Warrior Canine Connection’s Mission Based Trauma Recovery (MBTR) training program. 

Paul works closely with Wounded Warrior Project’s peer support group. The group meets monthly to talk amongst each other, and they also participate in other activities including indoor sky diving, axe throwing, arcades, and WWP’s Project Odyssey.

“It’s a good bunch of guys, we share things that work for us in a comfortable setting, and it’s a great bonding experience,” said Paul. “We all miss the camaraderie the military provided.”

He also volunteers with WCC. In fact, what started as his volunteer participation in its eight-week Mission Based Trauma Recovery (MBTR) training program, has long since led to him being a regular volunteer fixture at WCC’s Healing Quarters at both its Boyds and Frederick, Maryland, locations.  

“I learned about WCC in the newspaper, so I called them six months before I retired to see if I could help them out,” said Paul. “I wanted to help them, and the program ended up being therapy for me. What I get out of it is just phenomenal, like magic healing,” said Paul.  

Paul says volunteering for nonprofit organizations that support Veterans, including WCC and Wounded Warrior Project, brings him purpose, while helping him at the same time. He didn’t anticipate it, but by helping others, has helped him. “Both organizations are wonderful, and both have helped me out a lot,” says Paul. “And I’m happy to give back to them because they’ve done so much for me.”

In fact, working with WCC’s service dogs in training spurred Paul to enroll in an online course to become a certified, professional dog trainer. He says he wants to specialize in training service dogs and is actively visiting seniors and Veterans with his own dog, Luke, a 5-year-old Golden Retriever, who is a therapy dog. 

Warrior Canine Connection Receives $75,000 Grant from PetSmart Charities® to Bring the Healing Power of Pets to Veterans Through its Mission Based Trauma Recovery Program

December 4, 2018

BOYDS, Md. – Warrior Canine Connection knows that pets have the remarkable ability to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, improve our mood and bring us unconditional love. That’s why, with the help of a new $75,000 grant from PetSmart Charities, the organization is aiming to improve the quality of life for Veterans with combat wounds through its Mission Based Trauma Recovery Program (MBTR).

With this grant funding, Warrior Canine Connection will support its MBTR Program to enlist Service Members and Veterans to train service dogs for their fellow Veterans. The training model provides Veterans with a sense of purpose while they are in treatment at the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities and is designed to remediate their symptoms of combat stress, such as isolation, emotional numbness and re-experiencing. MBTR also harnesses the healing power of the Warrior Ethos in which Warriors train service dogs for fellow Veterans; through the process, they learn to focus on the dogs and their mission to help another Veteran.

“PetSmart Charities is a true leader and driver in support of the health and welfare of animals, and we are so grateful for their endorsement and support of our programs,” said Warrior Canine Connection Founder and Executive Director Rick Yount. “The emotional and physical support that service dogs provide to our Veterans is invaluable, and we’re excited to use this funding to help support our mission and to meet the growing need for Warrior support by training and providing highly skilled service dogs to our Veterans.”

Veterans who have participated in WCC’s unique form of canine-assisted therapy have reported that it has significantly improved their self-worth, peer relationships and family dynamics, among other positive attributes.

“As the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, we are committed to supporting programs that bring people and pets together,” said Sima Thakkar, regional relationship manager at PetSmart Charities. “The MBTR Program is a great example of how pets can enrich our lives and heal invisible and/or physical wounds. Thanks to our donor nationwide, we are proud to partner with the team at Warrior Canine Connection and support the expansion of this tremendous program that aims to improve the quality of life for so many Veterans.”

Last year alone, PetSmart Charities granted more than $1.8 million to support programs aimed at enhancing the quality of life for individuals through greater access to service animals and animal-assisted therapy programs. Funding from PetSmart Charities supports best practices that enhance the human-animal bond and finds forever homes and families for pets in need. For more information, visit www.PetSmartCharities.org.



About Warrior Canine Connection
Warrior Canine Connection is a pioneering organization that utilizes a Mission Based Trauma Recovery model to empower returning combat Veterans who have sustained physical and psychological wounds while in service to our country. Based on the concept of Warriors helping Warriors, WCC’s therapeutic service dog training program is designed to mitigate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other challenges, while giving injured combat Veterans a sense of purpose, and help in reintegrating back into their families and communities. For more information, visitwww.warriorcanineconnection.org.   

About PetSmart Charities®
PetSmart Charities, Inc. is committed to finding lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities helps to find forever homes and families for more than 500,000 shelter pets each year.  PetSmart Charities also provides grant funding to nonprofits aligned with its mission under four key areas of support: Preventing Pet Homelessness; Helping Shelter Pets Thrive; Supporting the Bond Between People and Pets and Providing Emergency Relief and Disaster Support. Each year, millions of generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores.  In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, granting almost $340 million since its inception in 1994. Independent from PetSmart Inc., PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization that has received the Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator, a third-party organization that reports on the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of nonprofits, for the past 15 years in a row – placing it among the top one percent of charities rated by this organization. To learn more visit www.petsmartcharities.org.

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Media Contact:
Warrior Canine Connection                                                   24-Hour PetSmart Charities
Beth Bourgeois                                                                         Media Line:  623-587-2177
Media & Public Relations Officer719-216-3206

Warrior Canine Connection to offer Service Dog Training at the Marcus Institute for Brain Health in Denver Area

New Partnership to Help Expand Breadth of Program Interventions for Veteran Patients

May 31, 2018

AURORA, Colorado – Today, Warrior Canine Connection announced that it is partnering with the Marcus Institute for Brain Health at the Anschutz Medical Campus to offer service dog training as part of its roster of MIBH’s interventions available to its patients.

This new Aurora-based location marks 10 program sites where WCC administers its Mission Based Trauma Recovery model, whereby Warriors recovering from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries help train service dogs for their fellow Veterans.

“We are proud to partner with the Marcus Institute for Brain Health and thrilled to expand our programming to the Colorado Front Range area,” said Rick Yount, founder and executive director, Warrior Canine Connection. “MIBH is a premier service provider for our nation’s Veterans, and we consider it a privilege to offer service dog training as part of its extensive program offerings to help our Warriors heal and grow.”

The Marcus Institute for Brain Health (MIBH) provides specialty care for military Veterans and retired athletes struggling with mild to moderate traumatic brain injuries (including concussion) and co-morbid psychological health issues. MIBH offers comprehensive care for the physical, emotional and cognitive changes that can accompany trauma to the head. Emphasis is placed on detailed evaluation and treatment; each patient is treated as an individual with a personalized treatment plan.

“The Marcus Institute for Brain Health is delighted to have Warrior Canine Connection join us in partnership here on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus in caring for military Veterans with TBI and psychological health conditions,” said Dr. James Kelly, executive director, MIBH. “WCC’s Ann Spader and one-year-old Labrador Retriever “Joseph” have brought unique opportunities for health and wellness to our interdisciplinary treatment program. We are certain that involving our patients in service dog training adds a dimension of holistic well-being and social engagement that WCC has become renown for introducing to the care of those with the invisible wounds of war.”

Each service dog training session runs for a total of four weeks. “Joseph,” the resident service dog in training, will soon be accompanied by a second dog that will be added to the program in the coming weeks.

 For more information, please contact Beth Bourgeois, Warrior Canine Connection, at beth.bourgeois@warriorcanineconnection.org or 719-216-3206.

About Warrior Canine Connection
Warrior Canine Connection is a pioneering organization that utilizes a Mission Based Trauma Recovery model to empower returning combat Veterans who have sustained physical and psychological wounds while in service to our country. Based on the concept of Warriors helping Warriors, WCC’s therapeutic service dog training program is designed to mitigate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other challenges, while giving injured combat Veterans a sense of purpose, help in the reintegration back into their families and communities, and promote consideration of a potential career path as a service dog trainer. For more information, visit warriorcanineconnection.org.

About Marcus Institute for Brain Health 
At the MIBH, our complete focus is to help you get better. People struggling with the persistent effects of mild to moderate brain injuries see changes in emotions, physical functioning, and thinking. These changes directly affect everyday life and impact how we see ourselves as well as relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.  At the MIBH, we believe in wellness for you and for your loved ones. We encourage your family to participate in your care. Health and wellness extend to all parts of your life, and we believe that with the right tools we can help make this your reality.

For many years, people struggled alone with mild to moderate brain injuries. Concussions have been misunderstood as “just a bump on the head.” Today we know differently. There are clear changes in brain functioning after injury and for many people there are long-term changes. This is the reality for military Veterans who may also struggle with PTS, depression, and anxiety. Our retired athletes are faced with the possibility of sport-related brain changes. We know that treatment for TBIs and changes in psychological health requires a sophisticated healthcare team. The MIBH exists to fill this critical need for comprehensive, customized care.


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