AKC Service Dog Honoree for 2014 and his Veteran Visit Morgantown to Talk Prevention of Veteran Suicide
By Margaret Glenn
March 10, 2015
On March 19, 2015 Vietnam Veteran Lon Hodge will be accompanying his start Labradoodle, Gander, to present to over 80 rehabilitation counseling professionals associated with the graduate degree program in Clinical Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling at West Virginia University (WVU). The topic? In Dogs We Trust: The Journey of a Veteran Traveler.
Lon will be talking about: Issues facing veterans; how veterans have succeeded; what still needs to happen and how we can help; and the role of service dogs in recovery for veterans. Gander will be waiting for a tennis ball to come his way while he is supporting his guy.
Lon is here to also visit the Hearts of Gold Service Dog Program that is a joint venture between WVU and the non-profit, Human Animal Bond. He will be speaking with WVU students participating in the service dog training classes and visit the new training facility on the WVU farm. He will also meet with the WVU military psychology student group.
He will learn more about ROVER (Returning our Veterans to Employment and Reintegration), a collaborative program between WVU and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that seeks to investigate the therapeutic benefits of service dogs that are trained to provide physical and psychological assistance to Veterans with from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For more information, go to http://rover.wvu.edu
More About the Veteran Traveler Team
Vietnam veteran Lon Hodge struggled for years with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder until he got a PTSD service dog named Gander. Lon says that Gander has saved his life. Now, Lon and Gander help other vets and work to raise awareness about PTSD, veteran suicide and service dogs.
Gander was rescued from a high kill shelter by a service dog training program. He was trained in a prison based program. He was an AKC ACE Service Dog Award Honoree in 2014, quite an achievement for a mixed breed Labradoodle!
Since the publication of In Dogs We Trust, Gander Service Dog and Veteran Traveler Lon Hodge have traveled 17 states in service to veterans and trauma survivors. They have visited dozens of hospitals, community groups, and businesses advocating for veterans, trauma survivors, service dogs, and alternatives to suicide. Since the book Gander, through his Facebook page, has helped place dozens of survivors with service dogs, donated thousands of dollars worth of books to veterans and senior citizens hospitalized, and volunteered hundreds of hours of crisis help, and dozens of internet media and community seminars and workshops.
They have developed a PACK of community members and carry out their charitable wishes: Planned Acts of Community Kindness permit Gander and Veteran Traveler to identify survivors in short term (and legitimate) need that the PACK can easily help directly and with confidence.
Hodge and Gander are on the road interviewing the families of US veterans who committed suicide; the result will be a book, Fetch, which he aims to self-publish early next year. This book will personalize 22 of the stories of the 8,000 veterans lost to suicide annually in America. During the journey they are chronicling the Post Traumatic Successes of those who have won their battles with pain and isolation.
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To Learn More, Contact
Dr. Margaret Glenn
Coordinator of Clinical Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling
Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling & Counseling Psychology
College of Education and Human Services
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV 206506