A new program at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) is supporting its military veterans by matching them with a dog for service, emotional support, or companionship. According to FAU News Desk, the program, known as “FAU Veteran Canine Rescue Mission,” which works with the Humane Society of Broward County and Happy With Dogs, has helped participating veteran students and alumni have a successful and positive experience. The program will be a resource for FAU’s current population of 1,300 military and veteran students.
Lenny Polidar is one veteran who was matched with Lena, a 3-month old American bulldog, lab mix, who was born at the Humane Society of Broward County. Throughout the adoption and training process, Polidar and Lena have developed a close bond. Polidar shared that Lena has helped him manage his life while also helping him cope effectively with stress. Lena’s trainer and founder of Happy With Dogs, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Rebecca Pasko, shared that “as a veteran with PTSD, my own four dogs including one service animal have enabled me to live a normal life. I truly believe that dogs can help people and I’m thrilled to be part of this important program.”
According to FAU News Desk, “housed within Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors® (C-P.A.W.W. ®) in FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, the FAU Veteran Canine Rescue Mission also is collaborating with FAU’s Military and Veterans Student Success Center to ensure students have the tools required for a smooth transition to civilian and academic life. For 11 consecutive years, FAU has been recognized as a Military Friendly® School.” According to Cheryl Krause-Parello, professor, faculty fellow of FAU’s Institute for Human Health and Disease Intervention (I-Health), and the director of C-P.A.W.W., shared that their research revealed that having a dog is a “lifeline” for veterans who may be struggling to reintegrate into society and living with post-traumatic stress.
Polidar hopes that FAU’s Veteran Canine Rescue Mission brings awareness to other veteran students who may need help. The companionship that develops between each dog and veteran is a special bond where both have really saved each other. Recognizing the help that can be provided to veterans is an important part of FAU’s mission to foster a positive and successful experience for America’s heroes.