Save A Vet With A Pet – Nonprofit Success Story (Podcast)

Save A Vet With A Pet – Nonprofit Success Story (Podcast)


– Hey, this is Toby Mathis with the Anderson Business
Advisor’s Podcast. Today, I have Dave Rafus with us. And this is a really cool organization. This isn’t the one that I set up, because David, I think,
just happened to be in one of our classes, and as we talked and as we learned about him, I said, “wow, this is really cool.” So I hope you realize that
it’s not just our clients that we try to help,
we try to help anybody. But this is an interesting organization, I’m gonna say it, hopefully, right, www.1veteranfoundation.org. Is that right, David?
– Yes. Yes, that’s correct. – Let’s just dive into this. So Dave, first off, welcome. – Thank you. – And if you could
explain to the listeners and the viewers out
there kind of what you do with your organization, what it really– kind of how it came about? – Well, we actually came
about four years ago, just about, November will
be our four year mark. – Congratulations. – With my wife and I, we
were sitting on the couch and we were watching TV, and the name of 1 Veteran just popped into my head, and I was like, “that
would be a really cool name “for an organization.” So my wife said, “well,
I know you’re not gonna “stop thinking about
it, so go buy the name.” So I went online, and I bought the name. Six months later, a
friend of mine and I were out riding our motorcycles,
and I started telling him about the idea of 1 Veteran
and the concept of 1 Veteran, so he asked me why I wasn’t doing it. And I said, “because it takes money,” and that was something I
didn’t have at the time. The IRS wanted $400 to start our c3, and he goes, “well, I have that,” and I said, “but I don’t,”
and he says, “you do now.” And he gave me $400,
and had his girlfriend, who was a bookkeeper, file our 501c3, on Thanksgiving day 2015. – Way to go. – Yeah, when she filed it,
we got it back in seven days. I thought it was gonna be six months. We sat down, and we discussed
the options of what we wanted to do, and we wanted to
help out our local veterans that were struggling and having problems. So we thought, “well, let’s see if we “can help ’em financially,
and let’s throw in this thing “for service dogs, and
see how that takes off” because my wife and I had
gotten me a dog and found out that nobody in the Southern
Arizona area, like Tucson and south, trained service
dogs for vets with PTSD. After looking around for several months, we found a couple organizations, but they were all over the
country, they weren’t here. So we decided to set up our foundation to train service dogs and help out vets with PTSD locally here
in Southern Arizona. – Let’s stop right there ’cause first off, I could see the flag in the background, you obviously, looks like Marines. – Yes, yeah, I did seven
years in the Marine Corps. – And so the PTSD issue,
like some people are aware, but some people don’t realize
just how horrific it is, but you’re talking about service members taking their own lives
when they come back. Is that the focus?
– Yes. One of the things we wanted to focus on was post-traumatic stress. Many members, when they come
back from serving overseas, or serving in the military
in high stress situations, i.e. combat, they– when they get out, they
no longer have their team, and all of the trauma and
stress that they went through, that was in the back of their mind, is now in the front of their
mind and is taking over. When we started, we were
losing 22 veterans a day to suicide, which was 8,300 a year. We had more veterans killing themselves than were dying in combat. – Just gotta– people
gotta let that sink in. You’re talking about 8,300 service members taking their lives per year.
– A year. – Yeah, and we’ve had around 5,000 or so that have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. If you look at it bigger
scale, in Vietnam we lost over 58,000, so we’ve
lost a substantial number of talented individuals
that served our country, put their blood and treasure on the line, because they couldn’t get
the help that they needed or wouldn’t accept the
help that was there. So with us, with our service dogs, what we do is we don’t really
call them service dogs, even though they’re
tagged as service dogs, but we give them a teammate back. Because when you get out of the military, the adjustment period can be
really, really rough, and– – I saw your dog, by
the way, I saw your dog. Where is– is it a he or a she? – Menifa, Menifa, come here. – Yeah. – Let me see if I can get
her up here. Come here. No, she’s found her chow. (Toby laughing) – She says, “what are you do–” – This is Menifa. – I remember. – Yeah, she’s my service dog. She helps me with some of
the stuff that I deal with, which are nightmares and
crowd control, so to speak. If I go some place where
there’s a huge crowd, I’ll take her with me and she kind of gives me my breathing room and my space, so that I don’t get too enclosed in upon. But a lot of people will see her, and then everybody wants
to come and see her, and then I don’t exist, which is great. (laughter) But no, with what we do with our dogs, we’ve trained approximately 18 to 20 dogs in 3 and a half, four years, and with that we haven’t
had a single suicide. – I wanna hear that again,
so how many have you done? – We’ve trained about
18 to 20 dogs in just under four years, and we
haven’t had a single suicide. We are down now to 20 veterans
a day committing suicide, which is right around 7,000ish. – Step in the right direction, though. – Yeah, it’s about 7,300 a year, so that saves us actually
about 730 lives a year of veterans that aren’t
taking their lives. Through the work of
organizations like ours. – Is it because the veterans
just don’t want to go get help, don’t know how to get help,
there’s no services available? What’s the– why do we have this– I mean, it seems like an epidemic. – Well, it is an epidemic. We’ve lost so many of our
talented, young individuals. But a lot of them when they get out, the military has tried to
help alleviate the stress of this problem by creating
what they call TAP class, which is a Transitional
Assistance Program. Problem is everybody’s,
when they’re getting out, nobody’s paying attention. So they’ll sit in this class for a week, and they’re given stuff on
how to get federal jobs, how to get state jobs,
but they’re not really given the information on where to go to get the health things that they need. So the military then started
getting people pre-registered with the Veterans Administration
before they get out. But guys, their pride doesn’t
allow them to ask for help. So generally, what it does
is it takes another veteran to kinda get a hold of them and talk to them, and say, “hey, you know what? “You’re about to go in through
a really tough change.” Because I used to work with veterans to help them find
employment, and they would bring me resumes that
were five star resumes, but they’d be written
in military language, and nobody understands
that in the civilian world. You know, you’d have somebody goin’, “well, I’m a professionally
trained A4T echo charlie, “and I can do the–” People are like, “okay, what is that?” “Well, I’m an aircraft mechanic.” “Well, then put that on there,” you know? And they get turned down
for job after job after job because they don’t know
how to read their resumes, or they’re embarrassed for
having to ask for help. It triggers a lot of other things. Nighttime, for a lot of
veterans, is really hard because they’re totally alone. A lot of veterans will go
into the trucking industry, or something along that lines, because then they can work alone. They don’t have to rely on other people. If they have a bad day,
they just go and climb in their truck, close the doors, close the curtain, they’re
in their own world. So what we do with our
dogs is we give them back that team concept, and the
dogs are trained to sense and understand when that
veteran is having a bad day, and then they draw the
attention to the dog versus where their mind is going. So if, say, somebody served
in Fallujah during all of that horrific stuff that was going on– – I can’t even imagine.
– Their mind, their mind goes back there
when they get really down. Well, the dog can sense that
there’s a problem coming on, and they’ll go up, and
they’ll try to play with them. They’ll pet them, they’ll paw at ’em, they’ll lick their face,
and they keep their mind from going dark, as much as possible, and bring it back to
something that’s happy. You know, and that’s a dog that loves them or a teammate that will be there for them and help watch over them and protect them. – I’ve seen that, by the way. And I just wanna stop because I know that service dog training, for those who aren’t familiar with
it, it’s about, what? $50,000 to train a dog? – For a PTSD service dog,
when we first started, we were gonna just go to California and get one, and it was $30,000 for a dog. – It’s very, very expensive. – Yes, and then we were like, “well, let’s go to Florida and check them.” $25,000 for a trained
service dog for PTSD. So my wife and I contacted one
of the local trainers here, whose father was in the military. And his experience with service dogs was when his fathers passed away,
one of his buddies that came to the funeral, had a trained
Rottweiler service dog and thought that that would be really cool for him to be able to give back to our local veterans and
to help train service dogs. And he though it was really
unusual that I’d showed up about two weeks, three
weeks, after that funeral, at his place of business and
suggested working with him. He has given us a deeply discounted rate on training our dogs, and
we’ve had tremendous success. We’ve sat down and wrote
our PTSD training program. They follow our programs, our guidelines, the way we do things. And since we have started,
like I said, we’ve done about 18 to 20 service
dogs for local veterans, and we’ve had some good success with it. We had one female veteran that
was Air Force who did a lot of stuff with, I believe
it’s their OSI or TID, it’s their investigative group,
and she would go overseas and investigate these murders and go into all these horrific sites. It affected her so deeply that
she almost lost her marriage. I’ve actually met her when
I was teaching a class when I worked for the state of Arizona, and we started talking, and she asked if I could help her with her dog. Well, I checked out her
dog, his name is Tyson. He’s pretty comical. He ran for President in the
last election on the dog ticket. (laughter) So he went through our training program, and since then, she has been
able to save her marriage. Her and her husband are
doing really, really well. They now live in Florida. Her husband is a, I think
they’re called roughnecks, they work on the oil rigs
and the oil platforms. – Yup, roughnecks. – Yup, and she now works with individuals to help rescue dogs in Florida. We have another dog that’s in
Alabama with an Army veteran that it’s the smallest
dog we’ve ever trained. I wasn’t sure I would train it, but he knew the dog, so
we (muffled speaking). And they’re living in Alabama. He’s a scuba instructor
now and helps teach people how to be scuba divers. We have one dog that I call my hero dog and her name is Ruby,
she’s a German Shepherd. The person that she went to has diabetes, and one morning, early,
when she was still asleep, her blood sugar bottomed out, (muffled speaking) hit rock bottom. – (tongue clicks)
– (muffled speaking) Was about to go into a diabetic coma, and the dog kept pounding
on the side of the bed, and she wouldn’t get up, so
she jumped up onto the bed and started licking her in
the face until she got up. She sat up and almost passed out, went and tested her sugar
levels, and found out that she needed insulin right
away, and is alive today because the dog was able
to get her woken up– – She was alone? She was alone, probably, right? – Yup, Yup.
– Wow. – Yeah, we have another
veteran, he’s an amazing guy, he was Special Forces medic. He did many tours overseas. Came back and was very
heavily self-medicating with anything that he could get a hold of. And I met him, he was
about to lose his family, he was about to lose
his (muffled speaking), everything, he was gonna lose everything. And we started working
with him to find him a dog, and we found a puppy
that somebody had seen us on a local television station and asked if we’d be interested in it. And he already had an
older dog, so we thought if we introduce a puppy, it’ll
probably (muffled speaking). Since we’ve introduced this dog to him, and the dog has gone through our training, he’s gone through our training, and he was the very
first dog we’ve ever had that scored 100 on our test. He has– – German Shephards are the flippin’ smart. – Well, this one here, he was
a Golden Lab, Pitbull mix, and
– Oh, this was a– – Yeah, so I mean, he’s a big old baby. The dog is just a big old
super baby, and since the two of them have started
working together, he applied for nursing school and got accepted to three separate nursing schools since we’ve started working with him. – How long does it take to train a dog? – It can vary. It can be as little as six months, sometimes a year to a year and a half. It all depends on the
dog, and more importantly, it depends on the veteran. If we have a veteran that’s
very willing to put in the work, ’cause it does take work on their part, then we can get ’em through in six months. The hardest part for our vets
is if they don’t have a dog, and we introduce them to a dog that’s gone through our training process, we then will let them have
the dog for 30 to 60 days to be able to bond and to
see if it’s gonna work. Because sometimes the
bond just doesn’t happen, and like we tell people, for us it’s more about the bond than the breed. Because we use all rescue dogs. We don’t have a breeding program. We don’t use a specific breed. We go to the animal rescues. We go to the animal shelter,
and we start screening dogs. And all of our dogs have to be, generally, between the ages of one and three years. And we do make certain
exceptions if we get a puppy that shows promise, we’ll take a puppy. And we let them live with
the dog for up to a year, with us keeping in contact with them, to make sure they’re
going to their counseling and stuff along that
lines, so that they can, you know, move forward. All of our dogs have to be
between 40 and 60 pounds or bigger because if
you’re thrashing around at night because you’re having nightmares, and (muffled speaking) flying
because you push ’em off you. It’s harder to push a 40 pound dog off you when they jump up on you to wake you up (muffled speaking) back
from the dark side. So we do it in that
aspects with our dogs, so– – Wow, and then during that six months, do you take the dog and like– Are they coming to you, or how
are you doing the training? – Well, what we’ll do is with our training is we call it doggy bootcamp,
or immersion training, where once they’ve had their
30 to 60 days with their dog, during that timeframe we make
sure the dog is medically fit and sound and has all
their shots and can do– is healthy enough to be a service dog, ’cause it takes a lot to be a service dog. We then put them into,
like I said our bootcamp or immersion training where they’re gone for six to eight weeks,
like as if you’re going to bootcamp in the military. They’re updated once a week with photos, and they’re given a little bit of information about how the dog is doing, about how they’re coming
along in their training. And (coughs) excuse me. But how they’re progressing. Once I get notified by
(muffled speaking) dog is ready with their good canine, their obedience, their advanced obedience, and with their specialized training, then we’ll introduce the
veteran back to the dog in a public place and give
the veteran about an hour to two hours worth of lesson to ensure that the veteran knows the
commands to give, to know how to handle the dog, and
how to move them forward. And we then let the veteran
and the dog go back home. They work together for
about a month to two months, and then, they get another lesson, and then we let them have
some more time together, and then we’ll test them out. All in all, we’ve probably about (muffled speaking) hours into every dog. – How many hours? – About 300.
– 300. – Anywhere between 250 to 300. It just depends on the dog. If the dog learns quickly,
it’s around the 250 mark. If they’re a little slower, and we’re generally up
around the 300 mark. – So it’s a long process. – Yeah. – How do the veterans find
you, or do you go find them? – It’s a little bit of both. We’ve been around long
enough now that we actually get referrals from the
VA here in Tucson where if a veteran that they’ve
been working with has a need, they’ll refer them to our
website because we want everybody to go to our website through
the www.1veteranfoundation.org, and then click on the
request service dog tab. And when they do that, there’s a form that they fill out, and
it comes to us via email. We will generally send them back saying, “request has been received.” And we’ll print it out,
we’ll put it in our file, and as money becomes available, we’ll pull the next one in line. We then contact the veteran. We will then sit down and
have a one on one interview to see if the expectations are realistic. Some people think that when you get a service dog, that they’re going to just be the most perfect
animal in the world. (Toby laughs) They’re still a dog, okay? They’re still gonna act like a dog. They’re still gonna have their good days, and they’re gonna have their
bad days just like people do. And so people need to understand that. When–
– You got good dogs, though. I’ve been around yours and– – Yeah, Menifa’s been a lifesaver for me. So she was one of the main
reasons we started doing this. Because Menifa helped me tremendously, and if she could help me, there had to be others we could help. And if we can pay it forward,
we’re gonna pay it forward. And one of the things we
ask our veterans to do is, “we helped you, now go out
and help two other veterans.” You know, because if every
one of my veterans goes out and helps two other veterans,
and say we’ve done 20, and now, we’ve helped 60 because each one of them are gonna go help two. And then each one of those that
they help, go and help two. And it’s just a spiderweb that
just gets bigger and bigger and bigger and being able
to help spread the good. There’s so much negative
connotation around PTSD that people think that
(muffled speaking) with PTSD, you’re automatically
crazy and you’re not safe. And it’s because they don’t understand it. And I’ll be honest, it took
me a while to understand it. PTSD doesn’t make you crazy. It means you’re dealing with
issues that most others don’t. You are carrying baggage that
you’re unable to let go of, and so one of the things
we do is, with the dogs, we have them name their
dog after something that was traumatic or a place
that was traumatic for them. And every time you conjure that name, it brings a bad memory to life. So what we do is by
having them name the dog after something traumatic,
it then takes it from being really negative
to a positive, you know? For the longest time, I
couldn’t say the name Menifa without getting teary
eyed or getting upset because when I was overseas
during Desert Storm, one of the places I was
there, I had a dog there. And it was very difficult
for me when I came back. With all the other stuff that
went on during Desert Storm, my escape was this dog I
had over there named Menifa. And when Menifa wasn’t able
to come back stateside with me it decimated me, so we
named my dog Menifa. And it took me, probably,
four to six months before I could say her
name without getting some kind of a negative reaction from it. And now, when I think of Menifa, I think of this wonderful little
furball that I got. She’s a Pit mix, American
Bulldog mix, and she’s one of the most loving, kind, caring
dogs for me that I’ve had. You know, when I have
a bad day, she listens. She’ll come and put her head
on my lap, and I just do what I (muffled speaking), you
know, it’s emotional vomit. You’re just getting all the negative stuff out, and she doesn’t care. She just listens, loves on me, and she just lets me know
that, “hey, you know what? “You’re havin’ a bad day,
but I’m here for you.” And that’s all
– And David, – We do with our other dogs. – Have they done studies on
the use of the service dogs? Because it seems, like,
so you actually had, it sounds like about 20
service members who’ve reached out and said, “hey, I’m having
issues and I need help.” And this is, and this is a method– This seems to be like a very effective. You’re not the first one
that I’ve heard this from, by the way.
– Yeah. – This is something we’ve– this is why I’m very interested
in your organization. But have they done studies on this and looked at what it does to the people in crisis by having these service dogs? – They’ve– according to the VA, there is no conclusive
evidence that would suggest that this is an all in one fix. And I tell people that this
is not an all in one fix. This is another tool in the toolbox to help build a better house. – Right. – With us, we do require that
they go through counseling and receive professional help
along with the service dog by their side, or their teammate. And we are finding that
guys that have been going through counseling and working
with their service dogs, their medication that they’re receiving is being drawn back a little bit. So instead of taking, say,
100 milligrams of Prozac, they’re like 50 milligrams of Prozac. And they’re working their way back. Or whatever medicine that they’re taking. There are some that
they will never be able to be off their medication. It’s just a chemical
imbalance that they have, but the service dog helps
to alleviate the amount of medication that they take. With me, personally, I was a pinball for 20 years,
basically, after I got out. Everybody was tellin’ me that I had PTSD, and I was like, “no, I don’t. “You guys are the ones that are crazy.” And I started working
with dogs, training them for truck driving, ’cause I used to drive a truck for 18 years. I noticed that my stress
levels were (muffled speaking). When we got Menifa, I would say, probably the first six
months was really difficult because everywhere I went, she went. And being in Arizona in the
summertime, it’s really hard for the dogs because it’s like
180 outside on the asphalt. – Right. – So, I mean, it’s like Vegas, it’s like the surface
of the sun some days. – Oh, it’s a dry heat (laughs). – Yeah, it’s a dry heat,
but it still will melt skin. – So is an oven, so is an oven (laughs). – Yeah. But like I said, we’ve had
really good luck with our vets. We’ve had a few that didn’t
make it through our program because they didn’t realize
the amount of commitment that it does take when
you have a service dog. When you take on a service
dog, it’s like taking on the responsibility of another life form like a child or young adult. And you’re dealing with
them having good days and you having good days, them having bad days
and you having bad days. And generally, like when
I have a really bad day, Menifa will pick up on it, and she’ll be by my side no matter where I go, which can be a little
troublesome, sometimes, when you have to use the facilities, and you don’t need her (muffled speaking). And then, when we go out
in public, you have a lot of people that, even though
you have “do not pet” on the side of the vest,
they apparently can’t read, and they come straight at the dog. And so–
– Just can’t see the not. – Yeah.
– They just, oh, do pet! – Yes. And so with Menifa, she was trained, for me, to back away from people. So when people see her,
they think she’s scared or that she’s terrified
because she’s backing away, or she’ll shake for like
the first five minutes (muffled speaking). And they’re like, “why
is your dog shaking?” I said, “she shows what I feel.” And for like the first
five or ten minutes I walk in somewhere that’s new, I
get real jittery sometimes, and I’ll just– inside I’m
shaking and like crazy, but on the outside I’m perfectly stoic. And she’ll shake like crazy
for like the first five or ten minutes, and then she calms down, and she’s like, “what’s up?” She goes around and says hi to everybody. But every service dog
we have is different. We have one named Ashley,
who was a Vietnam vet, is the most social dog I
have ever met in my life because she thinks everybody
was put on this Earth for her. And with this veteran,
with the job that he had, every year they have
a national convention, and he’s never been able to go to it. And when he went to the
national convention, he took Ashley Monroe, because
she’s very formal with her, the CEO of the company stood up and said, “we have a very special guest here.” And he goes, “I’d like to
call up Ms. Ashley Monroe.” And we’ve got pictures
of him and her strutting across the center of the
floor in front of everybody, and the CEO announced that they were starting a
national service dog program for their company. So that they would intentionally
go out and hire veterans with service dogs to be
able to work at the company, all because of what we did with Ashley. – Wow. – And helped that veteran out. So we’ve been really lucky in the aspects that we’ve had a much wider
reach than we expected. We’ve had some really good
luck with the veterans that we’ve had because we’ve
had a few that went really deep on the dark side, and we’ve been able to kind of get them
back into the gray zone. And we’re working with them to
get them back into the light, in that aspect (muffled speaking). – Amazing. – A lot of these guys, like I said, they’re amazing individuals, but because of all the negative stuff
that’s put out on the news and the TV about PTSD,
people have a tendency to shy away from ’em. Or because they’ve learned
how to have to be a bully to get people to leave them
alone instead of just being able to say, “you know what,
I’m having a bad day. “Can you give me (muffled speaking).” You know, so they’ve learned
in– and people think that because you have PTSD, you’re a jerk (muffled speaking) or whatever. And it’s–
– No. – Really sad because
they’re missing out on a lot of really great (muffled speaking). – I think people have a lot of fear of what they don’t understand,
and it’s one of those things where, you know, here in
Vegas, we have the monsoons, and we have veterans here where
the eyes look like saucers. You know?
– Yeah. – They get, as soon as
that thunder starts, it’s– Again, if you don’t understand
it, you’re scared of it. – Yeah. – We’ve had that here. It’s like, “so and so’s shaking.” And it’s like, that’s
because they’re dealing with some issues right now. You know, it’s just being
understanding about it, but I could see how having a service dog under those circumstances
could make a huge impact. How many folks do you have on
your waiting list right now if you don’t mind me asking? – Right now we just had an
influx, and we’re somewhere between four and six, right
now, that are waiting. And so, I mean, we knocked the list down quite a bit over the last year. We actually have a dog
in training right now for a Vietnam veteran. He named his dog Sergeant Major,
which kind of cracks me up, because (laughs), I guess
him and his sergeant major had a negative impact on each other. But we’ve got another dog named Valkyrie that’s waiting to go into training. As soon as the next spot opens up, Valkyrie will go into training. And it was funny because,
I mean, it’s not funny when you think about it, but I asked him, I said, “why’d you name
your dog Valkyrie?” Because I have them explain to us why they name their dog
what they name them. And when he was in the
military, his job was to pick the dead for intelligence,
and it’s, yeah, it’s– When people are killed in combat, they will sometimes have
scraps of paper on them, or they will have intel on them. Well, he was in intelligence, so his job was to more or less– – Oh, my God.
– Pick the dead. Well, in the Norse religion,
Valkyries are a winged warrior that comes down and gathers
the dead and takes them to Valhalla, so he named his dog Valkyrie because it helps him to deal with the fact of what it was he had to do
for his job, to move forward, to make sure none of the
other men got hurt in his– – Wow, I can’t even ima– Oh, my goodness. – So we have a dog named Valkyrie, and that was another one
of our puppies that we got. She was a Black Lab pure
blood that a breeder had actually donated to us
for this specific veteran. And he, that veteran, he’s an amazing guy. He’s really, really
struggling with daily life, but since Valkyrie has
come into the picture, he’s been able to be a better father. His wife said that he’s
actually sleeping in bed now instead of on the floor
under a cover or on the couch because he would have
such horrific nightmares that he would become very
violent in his sleep, and she would get elbowed
or hit by accident and stuff just from thrashing around. And he’s made progress
within probably two weeks of us introducing Valkyrie to him. He went from sleeping on the
floor to sleeping on the couch. To some people, that’s no big deal. – It’s huge.
– To them, it’s huge. You know, it was about
two months after that that he moved into the
bedroom, and he was sleeping on the floor by the bed
with Valkyrie by his side ’cause we have them put a
small dog pallet or a dog bed by their bed, and so this way,
when they’re sleeping in bed, the dog is right by their side. Like with mine, with Menifa, at night if I’m having a bad day,
she’ll generally crawl up in bed with me and cuddle with me for about 10 or 15 minutes, and
I just pet her as I watch TV and go to sleep, and in
the morning, I’ll wake up, and she’s gone over to my
wife’s side of the bed and curls up by her feet because my wife
is shorter and has more room. But–
– My God (chuckles). – Yeah, yeah, no, she’s smart
’cause it’s like, I’m six one and 250 pounds, and my
wife is like five two and about 120 pounds, so there’s
a significant space difference in the bed where– on my
wife’s side versus my side. (chuckling) But yeah, like I said, we
have them name their dogs after something that
draws a traumatic image to their brain, and then it shifts that from a traumatic image
to a positive image. And we’ve had pretty
good luck in that aspect. – So you’re looking more for
veterans, and you’re looking for the dogs to place with them. So you’re looking for both? – Yes, well, right now we’re
playing catch up again. And we do this periodically where we’ll get hit like we’ve been hit lately, where we’ll get like
three or four or five, and we have to put ’em on a waiting list because we have to wait
for the money to come in. And like I said, if we go to
California (muffled speaking), we’re able to train a dog for $2,500. – All right, let’s– I want– Okay, so first off, you should understand, our audience, they’re rockstars. The people that listen to
these, I already know a ton of ’em– they’re some of the
most giving people out there, so I have no doubt that
if you need sponsors for four or five veterans that you’re gonna have
people reach out, but– – Oh, that would be awesome. – It’s about $2,500 per
veteran to get this done? – Yes. – That’s it?
– Yeah, we have nine people on my, nine or
10, nine people on my board, and we’re all volunteers,
none of us draw a paycheck. Everybody does this out of
the goodness of their heart, but our big time goal is we want to be able to raise enough money to buy a property that I can put kennels and a training yard on,
and some office space. And then, I want to be
able to go and rescue, say, a half a dozen dogs at a
time, have my trainers work with them, get them to about 75% or 80% of their training level,
bring the veteran in, introduce them to their dog,
and then have the veteran, the dog, and my trainers work together for the last 20% of their training, 25%. And then when they graduate,
the dog is theirs for free. We don’t charge our veterans for the dogs. – Right, so the veteran’s
not out of pocket. You guys aren’t drawing money, like 100% of the money is going to the end result, which is to pair up a
veteran with a teammate for the benefit of that veteran and society as a whole, I mean, frankly– – Yes. – We’ve left these folks behind, and that is something that– And I still remember when
PTSD was not something that was a diagnosis, like you would– – No, it would be–
– they always said, “oh, what is this, your just be–” – It’s been called shell-shock,
soldier’s heart, I mean, it’s been called many,
many different things, and the newest manifestation
of that is PTSD. And it’s, like you said,
what we’re looking to do is, if we can find donors that
are willing to help us, to buy the property, build the property, and stuff like that. – Wow.
(muffled speaking) – We’ve recently had to expand, and I’ve had to bring on somebody
as my operations director (muffled speaking) stuff because it was becoming very overwhelming for me. So he’s stepping in, and
he’s gonna be reviewing and vetting the veterans
and (muffled speaking) stuff because we do have a Facebook
page, we have a webpage, we can be reached through either of them. – I’m gonna post all
of your contact online. As a wish list, are you lookin’
for folks that have property in Tucson, or are you lookin’ for people, like would you be willing to
work with anybody anywhere? – If– the property we want to be in the Tucson, Marana area. I live in Marana, Arizona,
and there is some property that I’ve been kinda
eyeing, but I don’t know if they’re willing to sell to me, and I haven’t really
approached them on that aspect because we don’t have money to buy it. – Right. – And so one of the things
that we really wanna do is, you know, have a property
where the veterans can stay overnight, and stay
there for a week, if need be, or two weeks, however long we
can get them to stay there. Our big goal is to be
able to help veterans all over the country, and
have them fly into Tucson, pick them up, take ’em
out to our buildings and our training area, let them stay there (muffled speaking), feed
them, get (muffled speaking) taken care of, get them into counseling, have little one on one
groups because I’ve found that being in a group with other veterans, they’ll talk about things
that they would never talk about with other people. – Right. – And by putting them in a
situation where, you know, a veteran will call BS on another veteran in a heartbeat (muffled speaking) for it. And they know if somebody’s
making something up or if they’re actually reliving something, and if they’re reliving
something, then it can– they can relate to it because
when you talk to a civilian that doesn’t understand,
and you tell them, “hey, I went, and I did
this, and I did that.” Now, all of a sudden, you’re being judged. Nobody wants to be judged, especially if (muffled speaking)
things happen in combat that people would never think
of and or never experience, but if you’re talking with
another combat veteran, and he gets it ’cause he’s been there. You know, you may have been
in Vietnam, I may have been in Iraq or Afghanistan or
Desert Storm or whatever it is. While they’re all different
areas of the world, there’s all that– you’ve got that unity of a shared experience, whether
it was combat in Vietnam, combat in Desert Storm, or
combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, you get it that horrible things happen. And you don’t really pass judgment. You may say, “hey, dude,
all right, I get it. “You went through hell, but that’s BS,” or “Hey, man, I get it, I’ve been there. “I understand completely.” Because veterans, over time, their memory of a certain
thing can distort, and it can become far worse in their mind than it actually was, or
it will become far less in their mind than it actually was. And by having somebody that
has a shared experience or a similar experience,
they’ve got somebody that can understand and
sympathize with them, or empathize with ’em (muffled
speaking) battles horrible. You know, it’s, “I understand, man. “I get the shakes, too.” Or for me, crowds really
trigger my heightened awareness, and I get hypervigilant,
and another guy might be, “whenever I hear a baby
cry, I get hypervigilant.” Some people are very tone
sensitive or frequency sensitive versus visually sensitive
or stuff along that line. You know, like somebody may
be driving down the road, and a white pickup truck
may be coming at ’em, and they just freeze up
because when they were in Iraq, they were going down the
road, and a white pickup truck was driving by ’em and blew up. So while at the time, they’re like, “wow, that was horrible,”
and they move forward, and they don’t think about
it, but a year or two later, every time they see a white pickup truck, in their mind, that truck blows up. So we teach– we try to
help them to get the help that they need, and
service dogs come into play with when the human body
goes into depression, anxiety, PTSD type moments, their body produces a different chemical smell. The dog is capable of smelling
100,000 different smells, so when the dog smells the hormone change, or the pheromone change,
the dog then goes into work and will draw their attention to the dog. You know, whether it’s
comin’ up and put their head on their lap and just
pet, something as simple as petting a dog, can calm them down. It can lower their blood pressure. It can lower their anxiety levels or their depression levels. Just something as simple as petting a dog. – Yeah, it doesn’t take much,
but I mean, it takes a lot of effort to do that doesn’t take much. – Yeah.
– Right? You gotta actually put
them in that scenario, so you have somebody kinda watchin’. Yeah, no, you know– First off, I wanna say
thank you for your service. I’d be remiss if I
didn’t do that, I’m sure, probably off of myself and the audience. But number two is I’m sure
that there’s gonna be people, or groups, that hopefully, want to help, and wanna help you sponsor–
that’s the way I would do it is just say sponsor a veteran with a dog. – Yeah, if we could get
somebody to sponsor a veteran, that would be nice, you know, and– – Yeah, and get together
with your friends, make it a group, whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be,
“I’m gonna cut a check.” There’s lots of ways to help, I’m sure. But the fact of the matter
is that, there are gonna be expenses, and just to do that– I’ve worked with organizations
where they build houses for the poor, and a lot
of people would just say, “I’m gonna sponsor a house,” or a group would say,
“we’re gonna build a house. “We’re gonna sponsor one.” It doesn’t take a, you know, a ton. In fact, somebody it’s just, “hey.” It’s something you may have been giving to another organization. You know, maybe your church
isn’t as pretty right now, but you’re helping out
a veteran, so you know, maybe divert some of those funds, but I’m just gonna do that for you, Dave. (laughter) I’m just gonna say that
it’s every little bit, so you know, thank you
for what you’re doing. For the folks out there, it’s
www.1veteranfoundation.org to go in there. And I just wanna say
thanks for your service, thanks for your time, thanks for comin’ on ’cause I know this probably isn’t the most fun thing for you. – Well, no, I’m just shy. I’ve never done a podcast
before, so this is all really new to me, and it’s actually
been really enjoyable. I mean, being able to get our
message out to all the people that listen to your podcast
is huge for us, and if any of your listeners are
willing to donate to us. If you go to our webpage, at
www.1veteranfoundation.org, we actually have a
donation button on there. – Perfect. – And it’s, if somebody
wants to sponsor a dog or sponsor multiple dogs, it
costs us about $2,500 per dog, and just know that
every dollar you donate, will most likely help us
to help another veteran. Well, not most likely, it will go to help another veteran to get
back into the real world. – And then, what if there’s
organizations out there? Since we work with a lot
of veterans’ organizations, a lot of ’em are trying different means of accomplishing the same goal. Would they also be able to contact you through www.1veteranfoundation.org, or is there contact information for you that you wanna give out. – Yeah, they can email me personally. It’s [email protected] That is my email, it comes directly to me, so I am able to respond back. I generally respond back
within 24 to 48 hours. – Perfect. – Depending upon what my work schedule is because I do have to work. And we’re able to get
information out to them and get them a little bit more information if they email me directly. – Dave, I really appreciate it. Thanks for comin’ on today. – Thank you. (instrumental music)

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