As the largest provider of military passenger and cargo airlift to U.S. service members globally, Atlas takes great pride in the partnership we’ve established with K9s For Warriors, a United States charity and veterans service organization that provides trained Service Dogs to military veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, post 9-11 issues and other psychological challenges associated with military service.
To date, Atlas’ partnership has helped support the construction of a “mega-kennel,” capable of housing and training more than 150 Service Dogs, which helped shorten the K9s For Warriors’ veteran waitlist – currently four years – by 50 percent. More dogs trained means more veterans can be helped.
Additionally, Atlas’ financial support has gone toward the training and placing of a service dog – Atlas – with a Warrior. The Company just learned that its second sponsored dog, Titan, is now in training and will soon be matched with another Warrior, supporting him or her in their return to a life of purpose, dignity and independence.
Training begins on the campus of K9s For Warriors and includes exposing the dogs to as many settings and stimuli as possible. While on campus, the dogs are introduced to different people, dogs, smells, sounds, and objects including wheelchairs, skateboards and even airplane seats, thanks to Atlas Air.
“As our dogs gain skills and confidence, we begin taking them off campus,” explained Elizabeth Reeger, Development Manager, K9s For Warriors.
“All of our dogs will go to plenty of public parks, restaurants, grocery stores, and other
‘big box’ stores, such as Home Depot, Target, Ross, etc. We also take our dogs to a variety of more challenging and unique locations such as the airport (we even go through security), the crowded streets of touristy St. Augustine, schools, sporting events, museums, pet stores, and more. When our Warriors arrive on campus to meet their dog, we go to many of these same locations, and slowly increase the level of difficulty.”
According to Elizabeth, Titan is at a very advanced level in his training and is on track to meet his Warrior in February.
“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for all of us,” said Gary Wade, Senior Vice President, Global Security. “Partnering with K9s For Warriors is one way we can show our appreciation for their service and our commitment to helping them adjust to civilian life.”
Sadly, approximately 20 veterans die by suicide every day. K9s For Warriors is determined to help change that and Atlas is poised to continue supporting their efforts.
Atlas has agreed to sponsor a third dog named Polar. Training for Polar will be scheduled soon.
“We are so grateful to the Atlas team’s commitment to our military service members,” said Elizabeth Reeger, Development Manager, Major Gifts. “Atlas’ contributions are helping to save Warriors’ lives.”