From two military spouses in an attic in 2011, to one of America's fastest growing companies today - R.Riveter is a mission-driven company redefining American manufacturing, one military spouse and handcrafted product at a time. Each R.Riveter handbag and accessory is carefully crafted by military spouses stationed across the country, making each product truly American Handmade.
As the leading service dog organization for disabled American veterans, we are committed to service, education, transparency, and doing what is right. Unfortunately, there are others out there who lack this commitment. If you search “service dog” on the Internet, you will likely discover a gratuitous number of websites providing false service animal documents and aids (some going as far as to “coach” you in faking having a service dog). The actions of these imposters mislead the public and, frankly, abets the dishonest.
As the first month of 2018 comes to a close, a great milestone has been achieved - the doors to our newest facility are now open. Located just outside of Gainesville, Florida, the Gold Family Campus was donated to K9s For Warriors last year. Since then, the property has gone from a private, luxuary residence to a multi-purpose training facility. This incredible campus is nestled within 67 acres and includes: a stocked lake, pecan orchard, nine bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and much more.
K9s For Warriors’ Rory Diamond and Shari Duval are two individuals who go the distance when it comes to giving veterans a new leash on life.
It has been a year since the puppy, Slider, I raised graduated from service dog training at K9s For Warriors. Last December, I wrote an essay to express the emotions I experienced during Slider's graduation. This piece has not been published - until now. I've heard Slider and his warrior are doing well, which brings me so much joy. If you are reading this and live within 50 miles of Camp K9, please consider becoming a puppy raiser. It is not easy... but nothing worthwhile is.
As an Army veteran deployed to Iraq in 2003-04, I am intimately familiar with the challenges that our warriors face daily. Depression and isolation are just two of the many problems service members may experience when returning from a combat zone. In 2012, when I was introduced to K9s For Warriors, I realized there was hope for returning warriors who, like me, struggled with issues related to deployment.
When one of our staff tells someone he/she works at K9s For Warriors, the usual follow-up question is,
“So, you train the dogs?”
Well, “No ...” is the answer for about 90% of our staff.
There are several departments that churn and burn to sustain the operation that is the whole of K9s For Warriors. Besides the obvious K9s Operations, we have other vital departments: Warrior Relations, Development, Public Relations, etc. All are equally important, working in tandem to make K9s what it is.
So, what exactly does the rest of the staff do?
My best friend, Daniell, knows just what to do when I’m depressed or in a state of sheer panic. She understands me and my struggles to the core and has a good reason to; we’ve been friends since the ninth grade and have gone through so much together. I try to be transparent in life, but it’s hard. Some people know this, some do not… but I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression since the age of 12. Daniell is, of course, one of the people in my life who knows this about me.
Becoming a K9s For Warriors service dog is a more intricate process than most may think. Depending on the age of the dog, the journey will differ slightly, but each dog must pass several steps before graduating with its warrior. K9s For Warriors requires that the canine pass through these steps to ensure they're the best lifelong partner possible.
My ’87 Ford Escort was jam-packed with boxes and Hefty bags filled with all the clothes and George Michael CDs I owned. My mom was in the driveway crying softly; my five brothers and sisters standing at her side, sad and confused. Just a week earlier, I had been planning on living at home while I attended the University of Florida, a few towns over. But now, after one fight too many with my father, there I was – 18 years old, sad, scared, and furious – fishtailing my way down our ragged dirt road, heading for the sanctuary of my cousin Chrissy’s couch up in Jacksonville.