This November 11th, take some time out of your day to honor the military veterans that have served in the United States Armed Forces. This day honors all of those who have served the country, and it is intended to thank the living veterans for their sacrifices. On Veterans Day, don’t forget about the K9 heroes that have selflessly served across seas as well to help their human companions!
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an agreement made between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his fellow countrymen, expressing his gratitude to those who have served and granted us freedom. This day was originally intended to honor veterans of World War I, however, several years later, World War II required the largest mobilization of service men in the history of the United States and the American forces fought in Korea.
In 1954, the veterans service organizations asked Congress to change the word “Armistice” to “Veterans” in order to honor all of the soldiers that served in combat. Congress approved this change and on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor all American veterans.
When we talk about veterans, it is important that we do not forget about our canine companions that have also put their lives on the line to help us. Military dogs were first used by the Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Sarmatians, Alans, Slavs, Britons, and the Romans. Dogs were first used in the United States to protect, send messages, and guard prisoners. They were also used as mascots and symbols of propaganda, as well as images on recruiting posters.
Celebrate Veterans (K9 Veterans, Too!)
Wondering how you can celebrate this annual holiday? To start, schools will oftentimes be closed on Veterans Day. Take this opportunity to teach your children about why they have the day off, and spend your time honoring veterans, both human and canine. If your child does have school today, they will likely attend an assembly where they will learn about veterans and they may participate in a moment of silence to recognize and celebrate those who have served.
Looking for more ways to celebrate military K9s? Create care packages for those across seas, including toys and goodies for the dogs! Examples of needed items include K9 cooling mats and vests, nail clippers and brushes, dog shampoo, collapsible Nylon dog water bowls, and more. For a full list of needed items for the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams who have been deployed to the Middle East, visit Operation Military Care K-9. You can also find contact information on their website to send your care package off!
K9s for Warriors
After coming home from war, some veterans need support mitigating the symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Fortunately, a program called K9S for Warriors provides service dogs to military veterans. They are the nation’s largest provider of service dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Military Sexual Tramua (MST) post-9/11.
The non-profit organization is 100% free for the veteran, and is aimed to help restore the veteran’s physical and emotional independence. The training facility is located in Ponte Vedra, FL, and warriors stay there for 3 weeks to train with their new 4-legged companions so that they can return to civilian life.
About 90% of the service dogs used in the program come from shelters or are owner-surrendered. This is amazing, as it gives these animals another chance at life and the great purpose of helping others. K9S for Warriors says, “With each graduate pair, we save two lives; we rescue the dog, and the dog rescues the warrior.”
It is important to remember that dogs in combat can also suffer from mental trauma, just like their soldier handlers. According to The Guardian, In 2014, about 5-10% of US military working dogs who were deployed in combat were reported to have signs of canine PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD in dogs can result in some animals that are over-responsive, some are more aggressive, some are clingy or timid, and some just have an overall behavior change. We must recognize the K9 veterans as well, and all that they have sacrificed, too.