Paws for Purple Hearts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of America’s warriors facing mobility challenges and trauma-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) by providing the highest quality service dogs and canine-assisted therapeutic programs, has announced the grand opening of its new San Diego facility. The organization currently conducts Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy™ in partnership with the VA San Diego Healthcare System at La Jolla, the VA Long Beach Healthcare System and the U.S. Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Battalion - West at Camp Pendleton.
“Our new facility will allow us to increase the number of warriors served by providing flexible session location options to partners,” said Bonnie Bergin, co-founder of Paws for Purple Hearts and world-renowned canine researcher and inventor of the service dog concept.
The new facility, located at 5550 Oberlin Dr. in San Diego, will officially open in a ceremony from 5 pm to 7 pm April 12 with a ribbon cutting, proclamations by the Mayor’s office, City Council, County Board of Supervisors, Service Dog demonstrations and facility tours.
Paws for Purple Hearts has provided innovative Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy™ since July 2017 to 37 individual veteran and active duty military service members who have occupied more than 200 session slots and received more than 60 hours of valuable session time devoted to reducing their PTSD and TBI symptoms. The organization also has provided social therapy to 30 veterans since July 2017 at various locations throughout the San Diego area.
“Paws for Purple Hearts is remarkable because we developed our innovative Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy™ that helps reduce trauma-related symptoms and allows warriors to take an active role in helping their injured comrades by helping to prepare service dogs for them,” added Bergin.
Paws for Purple Hearts began in 2006 as a research program at the prestigious Bergin University of Canine Studies, also founded by Bergin, with the Menlo Park Veterans Administration Medical Center. The organization is growing and establishing new programs with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Defense, and private organizations that serve injured Warriors.
“We provide life-changing Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy™ to dozens of Southern California area veterans and active duty service members, reducing their PTSD and TBI symptoms and enabling them to reengage more fully with their families, friends and colleagues as productive members of the community,” said Bergin.
Paws for Purple Hearts became an independent IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2011. Paws for Purple Hearts is unique among Service Dog organizations because we developed a therapeutic method in which we bring Warriors in to help prepare Service Dogs for their wounded comrades. Our Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy™ model allows each service-dog-in-training to help provide therapy to dozens of warriors before being placed with an individual warrior to help them with mobility, PTSD and/or TBI for the remainder of its service life.
Paws for Purple Hearts has facilities located in Northern Virginia; San Antonio; San Diego; Menlo Park, Calif. and Fairbanks, Alaska and plans to open many more sites in the future. Paws for Purple Hearts is supported by generous donations from individuals, corporations and foundations all around the country. Paws for Purple Hearts provides Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy™ and Service Dogs at no cost to warriors with PTSD, TBI or mobility injuries.
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