Retired Army SSgt. Joseph Trainor’s personal journey as an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran inspired him to create a nonprofit organization to reach out to other veterans while saving the lives of animals.
To promote the healing of Operation Iraqi Freedom, or OIF, and Operation Enduring Freedom, or OEF, veterans, Trainor teamed up with master dog trainer Toriano Sanzone for 14DDV – an alternative way to help troops transition and heal. Whether a soldier is transitioning to civilian life or coming back from a tour – Trainor said he wants to help veterans get back on their feet.
14DDV – one dog man, 14 dogs and 14 veterans – takes 14 dogs that were slated to be euthanized and trains them to be companions for 14 select OIF and OEF veterans in 14 days.
From July 1 to July 14, at the Good News Community Church in Chicago, 14DDV will document the event and stream it worldwide on Trainor’s website, www.14ddv.com.
Trainor said he hopes to raise money to be able to continue the program in other cities.
He said the event was important to him because he served with C Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and deployed twice during Operation Enduring Freedom.
“It’s difficult for people to understand the tough transition back into civilian life for veterans. For veterans, it’s tough to understand what lies ahead until it’s too late – plain and simple,” he said.
Trainor said his dog, Diesel, helped make his transition back to the U.S. easier.
“Something as simple as having your best friend around to talk to and show you unconditional love, no matter what, can have the power to heal the emotional scars,” he said.
The dogs are of various breeds and will be trained to be companion animals for the veterans – this includes wounded veterans in wheelchairs or crutches, or those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The selected veterans will receive two months’ worth of dog supplies, which includes dog bowls, leashes, collars and two weeks of free doggie boot camp classes, as well as vaccinations and registrations, for a package totaling $1,500.
Currently there are spots open. The only qualification, Trainor said, is to be an OEF or OIF veteran.
Veterans must be able to make a verbal commitment to being at the event July 14 to receive their therapy dog and fill out paperwork.
Veterans interested in the program should call (334) 663-7121.
For more information, visit www.14ddv.com.