The Ponte Vedra Beach-based nonprofit, K9s for Warriors, recently celebrated a milestone 600th graduate from its training program.
The program, which pairs service dogs with post 9/11 veterans and service members suffering from of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and/or Military Sexual Trauma, has served over 600 warriors and rescued 1,100 dogs since it was founded in 2011.
“It’s just a testament to our team working so hard and the community rallying around us,” K9s for Warriors CEO Rory Diamond said. “We’re incredibly excited about this milestone.”
K9s for Warriors also celebrated with many of the donors who made the moment possible, including members of AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors, Troopers Helping Troops and American Legion Post 33.
“There’s absolutely no way K9s for Warriors exists without the incredible generosity of our supporters and friends and community and volunteers,” Diamond said. “It’s incredibly exciting to see it come to fruition with this big number of 600. No one else has done anything like that in the country.”
The most recent graduating class showed its appreciated for the program, gifting K9s for Warriors a keepsake memorial comprised of a helmet, a shield, a leash, lapel pins representing the U.S. military service branches, and, of course, dog tags.
“This is amazing. I’m blown away,” Diamond said of the gift. “I’ve never seen anything like this from a class before. They put so much thought and effort into this and we’re just excited that the warriors who come through our door in the future, who are struggling, will see this and I think draw strength.”
Through donor and community support, K9s for Warriors is continuing to grow and recently broke ground on a new facility at its Nocatee location that will enable the nonprofit to serve more veterans and service animals in a variety of ways.
Diamond said while the nonprofit doesn’t have a specific number they want to reach, the organization definitely has an ultimate goal.
“That every warrior who needs a service dog has one,” he said.