Warrior Canine Connection: Past and Present
About twenty years ago Rick Yount, a Licensed Social Worker met Gabe, an 8 week old Golden Retriever. Fast forward one year, Gabe tagged along with Rick to work. Rick had the gut wrenching task of removing an 11 year old child from his biological mother and placing him into foster care. What happened next during this trip altered the course of both Rick and Gabe’s lives forever. Gabe instinctively knew how to sooth the devastated child and soon after became a Certified Therapy Dog. This would be the beginning stages of what would later become The Warrior Canine Connection.
During July 2008, Rick realized there was potential for dogs to play a vital role in the healing process of American Soldiers returning from war with physical and mental trauma. He established the first of its kind Warrior dog-training program “to provide a safe, effective, non-pharmaceutical intervention” to help treat Post-traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Located in Palo Alto VA’s Men’s Trauma Recovery Program in Menlo Park, CA, thousands of Veterans have since participated.
Rick’s program was such a success, he was asked to establish his program in Washington, D.C at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Warrior Transition Brigade.
In 2001, Warrior Canine Connection was founded to expand the Therapy service-dog training program to the Department of Defense and VA treatment facilities across the country.
Warrior Canine Connection utilizes “Canine Connection Therapy” to help warriors recovering from the stress of combat reconnect with their families, communities and life. By interacting with the dogs as they move from puppyhood to training to adult service dogs, Warrior Trainers benefit from a physiological and psychological animal-human connection. As a result of their efforts, Veterans with disabilities receive the finest in trained service dogs.
WCC teaches Service Members with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) the skill of training mobility service dogs to be partnered with Veterans with mobility impairments. This worthy mission is specifically designed to reduce the symptoms of PTSD in the Warriors who train the dogs. These Warrior-trained service dogs are then partnered with Veterans to provide them years of loyal companionship as well as an increased sense of wellbeing and independence. So far, WCC has helped at least 500 Veterans.
Warrior Canine Connection serves 4 vital military missions:
1. Provide Service Members and Veterans with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) the opportunity to be part of a critical military-support mission helping fellow Wounded Warriors.
2. Offer a safe, effective, and inexpensive non-pharmaceutical therapeutic intervention for the treatment of PTSD.
3. Provide highly skilled service dogs that will provide years of mobility and social support to Veterans with disabilities.
4. Strengthen the bonds and relieve stress in military families.