Deborah Farnham, Embrace A Vet Board President (left), and her husband, John, attended this event. In addition, Amy Burns (right), a veteran who attended our retreat and has gone through our service dog program, along with her rescue dog Mac attended this fun and very meaningful event Sunday at Old Orchard Beach High School. It was the 1st Annual Dustin Paul Memorial Benefit, 22 Push Up, 22 Lap Challenge. Dustin was an Army veteran who committed suicide in August. He was just 26 years old. The event was organized by Kelly Greene, Dustin’s aunt. It was a beautiful day to be out on the high school track for over 60 family members, Army buddies, friends and supporters, doing 22 laps and 22 push ups in Dustin’s memory and to raise funds for Embrace A Vet’s programs. Kelly used the number 22 to represent the number of veteran suicides committed everyday, nationally.
On August 23, 2016, after many weeks of attending weekly classes and many hours of training practice held at home, 4 veteran/dog teams earned their Service Dog Certification through our trainers North Edge K9. The testing took place at Home Depot in Bangor and was followed by a graduation celebration at the student union on the campus of University of Maine at Orono. During the 4 months of training these veterans reported diminishing symptoms of PTS/TBI such as a marked reduction in their level of anger which has promoted closer relationship with family members, the ability to go to the Old Port in Portland and walk the crowded sidewalks, enter shops and eat in a restaurant as a result of the security felt by having their service dog with them. Others reported feeling better because their service dog was trained to ring a bell to remind the veteran to take morning medications. The service dogs were also taught to respond to the veterans’ anxiety attacks, anger, sadness or frustration by soothing the vet with leaning, pawing and/or nuzzling their veteran. Congratulations to these veterans for their hard work and determination in successfully completing this course. They will be wonderful ambassadors of Embrace A Vet’s Paws for Peace program, North Edge K9 and the entire service dog industry.