The program this year will feature Leroy Woolf and his service dog. He will be representing Retrieving Freedom, Inc. RFI is a not-for-profit organization that relies on the generosity of contributors to help cover the cost of placing skillfully trained assistance dogs with veterans suffering from disabilities, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and children with autism.
Retrieving Freedom is a one dog, one person program. That means training is catered to the needs of the applicant. This is done with the leadership of Scott Dewey, Eric Dewey and Charles Dwyer. Combined they have over 20 years of experience in professional dog training; and Eric, a disabled vet, has five tours in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. With their direction, RFI incorporates the use of troubled teenage kids to help with the daily training and care of these dogs. Each dog will be trained for two years to learn the tasks required of an RFI service dog.
200 service dogs have already been placed with veterans in need, and the need for service dogs is neverending. Thousands of veterans have applied for dogs and are still waiting. A wounded veteran could possibly need three to four of these dogs in a lifetime. Each year, RFI will place 10 assistance dogs into service that will each provide an average of eight years of service. This veteran will give a moving talk about the important meaning his dog gave to him in helping him adjust back to civilian life.
For a full schedule of Memorial Day events in Traer, see page 10 of this week's print issue.