Another year has come and gone and it is time for our the Holiday Giving Charity Challenge! Last year, I was absolutely floored by the amount we raised in the American Heroes Charity Challenge. In my wildest dreams, I never believed Valor Service Dogs would be what it is today and it is all thanks to our donors, volunteers, and supporters.
Many of you know the story of how Valor Service Dogs came to be, but for those who don’t know the whole story, here it is; I got my Bachelor degree in psychology with an emphasis in animal learning. I first worked at a facility in the Bahamas that trained dolphins and sea lions (don’t worry, it was an open ocean facility and the animals got LOTS of time to play in the ocean). I then moved on to Zoo Atlanta where I worked with over 40 species of animals. In April of 2012, my husband was severely injured in Afghanistan. I moved to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to help him recover and after months and months of rehab and therapy, Justin was able to start caring for himself. That is when I began my job search for a career I could do while he was still at the hospital. I became a service dog training instructor for the government, where I taught other people how to properly train service dogs for wounded veterans. After 3 years of doing that, I felt it was time to expand my impact on this world. I knew I could help more veterans by starting my own service dog organization. I quit my job, Justin was discharged from the hospital and we moved to Tampa, FL. Jobless, living in a very small apartment and full of big dreams, Valor Service Dogs was born.
What began as a far fetched dream, turned into 2 dogs in training where I held training classes in my apartment living room, and then grew into what we are today with 13 dogs actively in training, 6 dogs placed and working with their veterans and a network of supporters I could not have even imagined!
My hope for myself is that I continuously use my skills and successes to help others. Valor Service Dogs is my way to do that. I want to live a life that I am proud of and on my last day, I want to know that I gave everything I could to better the lives of others.
“When you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life in a way that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.”
So here is where I call on you to also expand your impact on this world. Talent, wealth and opportunity are not equally distributed, But your ability to make an impact is without limits. No matter how big or small an impact you make, an impact it will always be. A donation, of any size, helps us continue our mission to change the lives of veterans. This is your chance to play a role in the life changing mission we work to accomplish every day. Our veterans service to this country is unwavering. Our commitment back to them should be just as strong. We can never fully repay the members of our military for what they have given during their service to this country but by doing what we do at Valor Service Dogs, we can help to welcome them home.
~ Carol Lansford, Executive Director