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Warrior Canine Connection Partners with University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine to Bring Therapeutic Service Dog Training Program to Veterans on Campus

Program Made Possible Thanks to Funding from Team Foster

BOYDS, Maryland – The Perelman School of Medicine and its Veterans Care Excellence Program (VCEP) at the University of Pennsylvania is going to the dogs. Starting this month, Warrior Canine Connection (WCC), a nonprofit that breeds, trains and places highly skilled service dogs with Service Members and Veterans with physical and psychological trauma, will provide an on-site service dog training program for Penn Veteran students, staff and those served by the university.

The program will utilize WCC’s Mission Based Trauma Recovery (MBTR) training model, in which Veterans learn how to train service dogs for their fellow Warriors. The program fulfills a time-honored military tradition of Warriors helping Warriors, and in doing so, Veterans can also benefit from their own skills development in communication, confidence building, accountability, emotional regulation and patience.

The new program is made possible thanks to a generous $100,000 gift from Team Foster, a local Philadelphia-based Veteran support organization dedicated to serving disabled Veterans through community support, Veteran peers and highly trained service dogs.

“Fueled by the support of Team Foster, we are honored to partner with an educational institution of Penn’s distinction,” said Rick Yount, founder and executive director, Warrior Canine Connection. “To have a program like this accessible on campus is incredible—as it will allow Veteran students and staff to more actively engage and benefit from the program, while helping to serve other Veterans by helping to meet the incredible need for service dogs.”

VCEP at Penn established a formalized structure to guide the existing and continued growth and development of Penn Medicine’s programs and services for Veterans in an effort to create a streamlined and supportive culture of care. The program oversees the recruiting, training and success-building of Veteran employees at the health system and ensures Veteran patients served by Penn receive optimum care. In addition, the VCEP program helps streamline the process of navigating health care benefits with those from Veteran Affairs.

“The Veteran Care Excellence Program at Penn Medicine and the Penn Veteran Collaborative Consortium program is honored to partner with Warrior Canine Connection and Team Foster,” said Paula Crawford-Gamble, RN, MSN, CAPT, NC, USN (Ret), Veterans Care Excellence Liaison, Penn. “Together we are excited to help our service members in need reconnect with life, their families, their communities, and each other through this innovative program.’” Crawford-Gamble has a service dog of her own from WCC, named Dollie.

“Team Foster has partnered with service dog organizations across the region for years; this is a long-overdue opportunity to bring a reputable, best-in-class partner to the Philadelphia area,” said Nick Liermann, founder and executive director, Team Foster. “Service dogs literally save
lives. Partnering with Warrior Canine Connection and Penn provides Philadelphia-area Veterans access to these amazing animals—something our area desperately needs.”

The program officially launched in October and is located on Penn’s campus. A WCC service dog training instructor, along with five service dogs in training, are already based at the location.
The program is actively seeking Puppy Parents, volunteers who help raise and train the service dogs in training for up to the first two years of their lives.

Veterans interested in learning more about the program can email mbtr@warriorcanineconnection.org or visit warriorcanineconnection.org.

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

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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, visit www.warriorcanineconnection.org.

About Team Foster
Team Foster fights for the unmet needs of injured and disabled Veterans by bringing together civilians, Veterans and highly trained service dogs.
We do this by:
·Helping Veterans obtain highly trained service dogs they need at no cost;
·Providing grants for the unmet needs of Veterans and their service dog;
·Ensuring Veteran service dogs receive the highest quality training;
·Promoting awareness of service-related PTSD and TBI and advocating for the long-term needs of our Veterans.
Learn more at www.teamfoster.org.