K9s for Warriors is a non-profit organization that provides trained service dogs for Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma related to their service. The group helps to end Veteran suicide and to restore dignity and independence to those who have served in the military.
K9s for Warriors matches Veterans with a service dog and guides them through three weeks of training with their new dog free of charge. Service dogs are scientifically proven to lower symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and social isolation while increasing life satisfaction and overall psychological well-being.
If you are a service-connected disabled Veteran with military service after Sept. 11, 2001, then you are eligible to apply. The disability does not have to be physical and can include psychological diagnoses to qualify for the program. Currently, the program does not apply to Veterans who are legally blind or hearing impaired.
You can begin your application for a service dog on the K9s for Warriors website. The application process takes approximately 1-4 weeks. You must include a letter from your doctor that confirms your service-connected disability and states that you are physically and mentally capable of undergoing the 21-day training program. A Mental Health Verification form, four copies of your DD214, a full-length photo for identification, and an agreement to support form from two individuals must also be included in your application.
If you are accepted, you will be put on a wait list which averages approximately 16 to 18 months. Then, you will be paired with a dog based on your personality and activity level. At that point, you would attend the training program in either Ponte Vedra or Gainesville, Florida. Veterans are provided with housing and meals during the training program. Transportation to Florida is not included; however, there is a list of organizations that will assist with travel costs on the K9 for Warriors website.
The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on the part of the VA.
Written and designed by Heather Martin and Kailey Miller, student interns working with VA’s Digital Media Engagement team.