Lawmakers Come Together To Raise Money For Dogs And Vets
Members of Congress got together Tuesday night to raise money for a non-profit group that provides veterans with service dogs trained to help vets cope with PTSD.
The charity group, K9s For Warriors, fills a need for vets who may have a hard time adjusting to their new roles in civilian life.
The charity, based in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida, trains rescue dogs to become service dogs. Since it formed four years ago, K9s For Warriors has trained and placed nearly 200 dogs with veterans across the country, all at no charge.
Jason Haag, a former captain in the Marines who returned from Iraq with PTSD, said the organization and his dog Axel, helped him get his life back in order after he started suffering from nightmares and other combat-related issues.
“It put the smile back on not just my face, but on the faces of my family, too,” he said.
A staggering number of American veterans commit suicide in this country every day, 22 to be exact. Haag said he has personally lost 9 friends to suicide since he retired from the Marines, a number he said is far too high, and the charity could help fix.
“That’s more guys than I lost on the battlefield,” he said.
Congress members from both sides of the aisle, many who were members of the armed forces themselves, attended the event held at the National Republican Club near Capitol Hill.
Rep. Charlie Rangel was an unlikely favorite in the room of predominantly Republican members and supporters, though, arriving late to the party to cheers and shouts from the other congressmen.
Rangel quipped, “me breaking in to a Republican fundraiser is nothing new,” before recalling how he received Republican endorsements for the first decade of his political career and how he has run on both Republican and Democratic tickets in elections dating as far back as the mid-60’s.
“They teach you to be proud in service. Most veterans don’t want to confess that they have mental health issues,” he said. “There is a stigma against it in this country.”
Rangel said a lot of people claim to support the troops, but few actually go out of their way to help those veterans who may be suffering from PTSD or traumatic brain injuries.
“Instead of just saying thank you, say can I help you?” Rangel said. “You’ll feel better yourself if you grab one of these veterans and say what can I do to help you?”
Also in attendance were Reps Ryan Zinke, Gus Bilirakis, Darrell Issa, and a few others.
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