Despite the wintery breeze, veterans’ service dogs and their owners or trainers gathered on Saturday afternoon, January 15, at Edgefield Veterans’ Memorial Park to celebrate the donation of $4,600 to a local non-profit organization dedicated to training service dogs for disabled veterans. Edgefield American Legion Post 30 delivered the proceeds from November’s Service Dog Dash 5K to local organization Veterans K9 Solutions to assist them in their quest to rescue shelter dogs and train them as service dogs.
Present at the ceremony were Veterans K9 Solutions founder and CEO Jerry Lyda, trainers and members of his staff, along with several veterans and their service dogs. Mr. Lyda, a Navy veteran, together with his son Jay,founded the organization in 2012 as a non-profit, volunteer organization, providing free service dogs and training to disabled veterans.
Over their 10-year history, the organization has helped to train approximately 200 shelter dogs as companions to veterans across the CSRA. The unique concept of Veterans K9 Solutions is that they concentrate on rehabilitating rescue dogs and training them to be a service animal. This has led to their motto of “Giving back to those in need by saving two lives at a time.”
Legionnaire Winston Boddie, explained why Post 30 chose to partner with Veterans K9 Solutions. “The motto of the American Legion is ‘Veterans Strengthening America.’ A veteran who needs a service dog has forever given a piece of him or herself in service to our country. When a veteran receives a service dog they are restored in part measure. They gain a companion and a source of strength. As the veteran gains strength, so do our communities. And strong communities supply the framework that enables us to raise healthy families.”
Mr. Boddie explained, “The success of that event was due to the outpouring of community financial and logisticalsupport. Edgefield County businesses and individuals alike donated generously to sponsor this fun event. For this, Post 30 would like to thank you once again. But most importantly, we want to extend our sincere thanks to our volunteers who made the event an overwhelming success. It is no exaggeration to say that it couldn’t have happened without our volunteers.”
Mr. Lyda emphasized that the organization would not exist without the support of his staff, trainers, volunteers, and partnerships with organizations like Post 30. In addition to training, they advocate on behalf of disabled veterans’ rights with regard to the use of service dogs in federal buildings and public spaces. Director of Training and Advocacy Thomas Gregg explained that he has personally met with Fort Gordon, Georgia, commanders and senior leadership several times educating them on the rules and regulations concerning service dogs being allowed in federal buildings and workspaces.
Edgefield American Legion Post 30 is active in our community and welcomes new members to join us. To find out what we’re up to, visit us on Facebook at “The American Legion Hezzie Griffis Post 30 Edgefield, South Carolina” page or email us at email@example.com. Monthly meetings are open to veterans and qualified members and meet the 3rd Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at 314 Penn St., Edgefield.
Submitted by Winston Boddie