GR US

AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors Is Saving Lives

Εθνικός Κήρυξ

The AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors Program continues to save lives, shown here, left to right: Program Vice Chairman Bob Fourniadis, Veteran David Castro with service dog Hunter, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, and Program Chairman George Karatzia. Photo: George Karatzia

HOLMDEL, NJ – The AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors Program reached two significant milestones as it completed its fourth full year of operation. The first came from the endorsement of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. After AHEPA met with His Eminence to explain the purpose and objectives of the Service Dogs for Warriors Program in March 2020, the Archbishop provided a heartfelt commendation of the program. In His Eminence’s words:

“…As you honor our veteran’s military service and duty to our homeland through this wonderful program of providing them with a specially trained service dog in order to aid them in their recovery and return home, you simultaneously respect the sanctity of creation… And for this genuine display of Christian love and compassion for your fellow man and created world, I offer you my wholehearted praise.”

The support of the AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors Program by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and His Eminence is a milestone that the organization accepts with gracious humility and opens the way for continued growth of the relationship of the Order of AHEPA and the Church.

The second milestone was the accomplishment of sponsoring the 51st Service Dog through the AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors Program. In only four years the AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors Program has raised over $750,000. This program works and walks shoulder to shoulder with the entire AHEPA Family, receiving support and strength from the Daughters of Penelope and the Sons of Pericles. Working together as one family there is no limit to the future and what they can and will accomplish.

Sadly, in our great country there are still in excess of 20 suicides a day of Combat Veterans and active-duty soldiers. Reports from the Veterans Administration Department validate that there are currently over 1 million veterans under treatment for mental health illness and at risk. Many American combat veterans come home from war physically, but mentally they remain on the battlefield. They are imprisoned by their thoughts, crushed by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Many studies have shown that specially trained Service Dogs can mitigate the horror of PTSD and help overcome the challenges that inhibit these veterans from fully returning to normal life after experiencing war. These Service Dogs are not pets. They are medicine. They provide treatment for an unseen illness by opening doors both literally and figuratively for the veterans, performing tasks and behaviors that reconnect the veteran with family, community and each other.

According to a news release from AHEPA, “taking care of our veterans is a sacred obligation, one that the AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors Program has undertaken with honor. In answering the call of being our brother’s keeper, we are given the opportunity to do something few have done. We have the amazing chance of saving the life of another person, one who answered the call to duty that only 1% of all citizens answer, so the remaining 99% can live free! What gift in our own life is greater than that?”

“Together we can continue to save lives. Be a hero. Support the AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors Program. Visit our webpage at www.ahepa-servicedogs.org for more information and to provide support. Through the AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors Program we can all make a difference.”

“May God Bless you, the Order of AHEPA and the AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors Program,” the statement concluded.

For more information, contact George Karatzia, the National Chairman of the AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors Program, by phone: 732-610-6622.