CARLISLE, Mass. — The seventh annual “Walk and Wag for Veterans” will benefit Operation Delta Dog (OpDD), a nonprofit based in Hollis, N.H., whose mission is to rescue shelter dogs and train them to be service dogs for disabled veterans.
The Walk and Wag is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Great Brook Farm State Park, 984 Lowell St. The event includes a scenic walk, food trucks, vendors, music, a silent auction, raffles, kids’ activities, service dog demonstrations, a mounted police equestrian demonstration, and a Touch-a-Truck display of military vehicles.
OpDD serves veterans of all ages throughout southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts who suffer from the “invisible” disabilities of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). It is part of OpDD’s mission to help reduce the veteran suicide rate in the area by providing these veterans with the emotional and physical support they need to return to a healthy and happy civilian life.
Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives in the United States — almost one veteran lost each hour. These veterans serve their country and return facing new battles in the form of PTSD and TBI, leaving them debilitated, sleepless and unable to cope with daily routines. New Hampshire and Massachusetts are home to over 500,000 veterans; according to Veterans Affairs estimates, 100,000 of the veterans in this region are currently suffering from these disabilities.
As our veterans struggle with their daily battles, nearly 80,000 dogs in the area end up in shelters; nearly half of these dogs’ lives end by euthanasia. Not all service dog organizations focus solely on veterans and not all of them use rescued dogs in their programs. By saving these dogs and pairing them with our veterans, OpDD is training assistance-animals that have proven records of combating depression, PTSD and other disabilities our veterans face.
Depending on the veteran’s particular disability, the dogs are trained to perform a variety of tasks, including providing stability for those with balance issues; waking and providing comfort during night terrors; retrieving dropped items; flipping on light switches and providing “perimeter searches” upon entering a dark home; providing a physical barrier in crowded spaces; easing symptoms of agoraphobia by serving as a calm companion in public spaces; and alerting to, and providing comfort during, anxiety attacks. The training, which lasts 12 to 18 months, is free for the veteran.
OpDD is funded solely through grants and private donations. With last year’s Walk and Wag, OpDD saw its greatest increase in corporate and family/friend teams competing against each other to gain top prize for the most donations raised. The financial success of the Walk and Wag event directly correlates to the number of veteran/service dog teams that are created in the upcoming year, as all the proceeds go to the cause.
Those interested in attending this year’s event are asked to register at walkandwagforveterans.com.