The men and woman who serve our country are a very special breed. Every single one of them signs their name at the bottom of the contract knowing they may not make it home in one piece or home at all. Lot’s of time and money is spent training them to defend our great country. They serve with honor — some make it a career — some fulfill their initial contract — turn in their kit — collect their DD214 and head out the gate back into the civilian world.
As a former Marine, I know the Corps does it’s best to prepare those “getting out” for the transition to the civilian world but many drive out the gates for the last time into a world that doesn’t understand them and they struggle to adjust to being a civilian again. For those who have visible injuries, casual observers know something happened to them. For those who are suffering from TBI or Post Traumatic Stress — we can’t see their pain. Sadly, I’ve lost more friends since they have returned home than have died in combat.
Torre Willadsen, president of Dogs2DogTags started a program to pair up veterans who need a service dog and dogs that need a forever home with veterans.
“The idea for Dogs2DogTags (D2Dt) came to Torre Willadsen when he was deployed as a civilian contractor working with military dogs in 2012. During his time with the 7th Marines, he developed close bonds with dogs and dog handlers.
When dog handler Chris Van Etten was wounded, Torre worked hard to help keep Chris and his dog Harley together during Chris’ recovery. Torre suspected — and then sawfirsthand — the profound effect a canine companion could have on a wounded man’s frame of mind at a difficult time. And that’s when Torre knew that he wanted to bring that kind of unconditional support to those back home struggling with post-traumatic stress.”
The mission of D2Dt is simply stated but takes a lot of behind the scenes work to make it happen. “At Dogs2DogTags, our goal is to pair a service dog in need of a home with a veteran in need of unconditional love and support. Because we know that a veteran’s battles aren’t always over when he or she returns home, and that a dedicated service dog, provided at no cost, can be one of the simplest and most effective ways in which we can all stand by these brave men and women.”
Hall of Fame Quarterback Brett Favre is one of the greatest competitors to ever step on to a football field. Brett also has a great love of the outdoors and is a patriot who believes our veterans need more support here at home.
Brett started 4Outdoors to help people and organizations in need connect with the outdoors. Brett, 4Outdoors and PETCO recently partnered to shed light on Dogs2Dogtags and make their mission a little easier to accomplish.
Beginning in 2018, a multipart 4Outdoors video series featuringBrett Favre will run across multiple websites, chronicling Dogs2Dogtags as they pair veterans up with service dogs. The series will feature the process of how the dogs are trained and how the new teams are paired.
“When Petco learned about Dogs2Dogtags, their mission and what Brett was doing to support their organization, we knew we had to be involved”, said Brock Weatherup, EVP of Strategic Innovation & Digital Experience. “They’re all doing exactly what we at Petco believe in deeply – helping dogs and our military.”
While speaking with Torre, his passion for saving vets lives can be felt even through the phone lines. I could tell every fiber of his being is dedicated to what D2Dt stands for. Watching the first episode I got some dust in my eyes and they watered up some. The D2Dt program is changing lives for the better. What Torre and his team are doing will save the lives of veterans here at home and help them be more productive members of the communities where they live.
Please go to www.dogs2dogtags.com and donate to this great cause.