Program aimed at helping vets is booted from D.C.-area military facilities

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Warrior Canine Connection is a program that uses military veterans, called “Warriors,” to train puppies to assist wounded warriors. The program was abruptly ousted from two military facilities last month, with no explanation.

According to its website, Warrior Canine Connection “utilizes a Mission Based Trauma Recovery model to help recovering Warriors reconnect with life, their families, their communities, and each other.” The Warriors work with dogs from puppyhood through adulthood, training them to be service dogs for wounded Warriors.

“Warrior Trainers benefit from the animal-human connection, while wounded Warriors receive the support that a service dog can provide,” the site says.

The program was operating in three locations: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland; Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Menlo Park, California, and Warrior Transition Unit in Fort Belvoir, Virginia; with a fourth on the way in Boyds, Maryland.

Last month, on Oct. 27, the dog training staff at Fort Belvoir and at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center were told to leave their offices that afternoon.

“At two o’clock in the afternoon, I received a phone call saying there was a stop work order. There was no explanation whatsoever as to why that was the decision,” explained Warrior Canine Connection Executive Director Rick Yount, according to WTOP.

He has been unable to get answers as to why and explained that as far as he knows, there haven’t been any complaints about the dogs or the service they provide.

“We’re trying to get answers. Why would — all of the sudden — a program be halted that was serving patients?” Yount asked. “We’ve heard absolutely nothing.”

The Warrior Canine Connection’s contract with Fort Belvoir was not set to expire until 2019.

“There’s no question that this program saves lives,” he said, recalling that some of the veterans who participated in the training program told him that being visited by the dogs and training with them gave them a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

You may watch a video describing the program below:

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