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Veterans From Iraq, Afghanistan & Other Conflicts Partner With Service Dogs in America's VetDogs Graduation Ceremony
Date:6/22/2009

WASHINGTON, June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The newest service dogs from America's VetDogs will take their places beside four disabled veterans, who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts, in a special graduation ceremony before a gathering of top army officials, defense contractors and supporters of America's VetDogs. The ceremony will take place in Washington, DC at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel beginning at 6:30 p.m. A press conference will be held at 5:30 p.m.

America's VetDogs provides wounded heroes with new comrades to help them conquer the challenges they face as they regain their independence and mobility after they've suffered serious injuries in battle, including loss of limbs. VetDogs works with veterans of all eras, and with the military, to meet the need for innovative assistance dog training.

During an intense six-month training process, these VetDogs are specially trained to help the veterans based on their individual needs. Guide dogs are trained to assist those who are visually impaired find and follow a clear path, maneuver around obstacles, and stop at curbs, while service dogs are taught to help veterans who have disabilities other than visual impairment. They may provide balance and stability support, and fetch and retrieval of dropped items. Combat stress relief dogs are deployed with combat stress control units in theater for active military personnel to offer emotional support and military therapy dogs provide physical therapy assistance at military or VA hospitals for wounded soldiers.

Among the graduates of the VetDogs program will be Neil Duncan, whose "life quickly changed" while serving in Afghanistan. As he was driving down a hillside in a dry river bed, an IED buried by an enemy combatant blew up under his truck. Duncan soon found himself in a bed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center missing his right leg above the knee and his left leg below the knee. His right arm was bandaged from fingertip to armpit, and his jaw was wired shut.

Duncan says, "I have found meaning in life by trying to provide motivation and inspiration to those around me in anything I do. I wouldn't be who I am without these experiences. Now I know that the sky is the limit for what can be accomplished." Duncan will discuss how his service dog will help him to continue to reach for the stars.

Alumni of the VetDogs program will also be in attendance, including Jose Ramos, who received Stryker, the first service dog from VetDogs. Stryker assists Ramos in getting up and down stairs and into bed, and fetch anything he might drop, such as his keys or wallet. Ramos says Stryker has been "my ticket back to the real world."

    Contact:
    Jeff Bressler
    631-930-9051 (office)/ 516-840-7011 (cell)
    jeff@vetdogs.org
    Bill Krol
    631-930-9034 (office)/ 631-780-2457 (cell)
    bill@vetdogs.org


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SOURCE America's VetDogs
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