GOLF EVENT SUPPORTS SERVICE DOG PROGRAM FOR VETERANS 

18-hole tournament helps provide funds to place service dogs for veterans with disabilities

Smithtown, NY  (August 8, 2017) – America’s VetDogs (www.VetDogs.org), a nationally accredited provider of specially trained guide, service and hearing dogs to veterans with disabilities, is pleased to announce its 8th Annual VetDogs Golf Classic (Golf.VetDogs.org) to be held Monday, August 28, at the Huntington Country Club in Huntington, NY. This event assists in deferring costs to train and place these special dogs that help veterans return to a life of pride and independence. 

The shotgun start begins at 11 a.m., and the match features several hole-in-one prizes, including “His and Her” new cars.  The post-tournament cocktail hour is followed by dinner and a live auction and raffles. Foursomes and dinner and sponsorship opportunities are available, but will sell-out fast. Additional details on the event can be found at Golf.VetDogs.org.

It takes over $50,000 and two years to raise, train and match just one service dog with a veteran with disabilities. However, all of VetDogs’ services are provided at no cost to veterans; funding comes from events such as the golf classic and the generous contributions of individuals, corporations, foundations, businesses, and service clubs. 

This year’s guests of honor include United States Marine Corps (Ret.) Major Chad Althiser and United States Army Specialist Tyler McGibbon. 

Althiser’s duty stations included postings in Oklahoma and California, and he deployed overseas to Okinawa, Japan, and twice to Iraq (in 2003 and 2004) as an artillery officer. In 2007, he transferred to Expeditionary Warfare School. He served there from 2008 to 2010 and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. In 2015, Chad was retired with 20 years and 9 months of service. Chad first discussed getting a service dog with his occupational therapist because he was “feeling disconnected from people, even my family,” he says. “When I learned about the AVD service dog PTSD research study, I knew it was the right path for me.”

Since training with his dog in February 2017, Chad says, “Many positive changes have occurred. I have been more present and calm. This allows me to be engaged with my family and others, but also helps me to get the best out of Mikey in a service capacity.”

McGibbin was a US Army cavalry scout. Before a mission, cavalry scouts are tasked with planning the routes, setting up observation posts, and to note areas of interest. Part of his responsibilities was to control a small unmanned aircraft system.  In December 2014, six months into his first deployment to Kuwait, Tyler was injured when the Humvee he was riding in rolled over when returning to base. He was ejected from the vehicle and sustained severe traumatic brain injuries and a fractured spine. 
Tyler spent more than two months in a coma and transferred to the polytrauma unit at McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Virginia to continue his recovery. While at McGuire, he was promoted from private first class to specialist.

Tyler trained with his service dog in June 2017. Trooper has been trained to provide counterbalance when he’s going up and down stairs; retrieve items such as a phone or cane; press accessible door buttons; and turn light switches on and off.

Participants at the Golf Classic will have the chance to meet United States Marine Corps (Ret.) Major Chad Althiser and United States Army Specialist Tyler McGibbon and witness firsthand how their assistance dogs have changed their lives.  

About America’s VetDogs® 
Since 2003, America’s VetDogs has trained and placed more than 420 guide, hearing, PTSD, and service dogs to provide independence, enhanced mobility and companionship to veterans with disabilities from all eras. In 2015, VetDogs opened its programs to first responders, including fire, police, and emergency medical personnel.  America's VetDogs is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded by the Guide Dog Foundation and relies on contributions from generous individuals, corporations, service clubs, and foundations to fund its mission to help those who have served our country live with dignity and independence. It costs over $50,000 to breed, raise, train, and place one assistance dog, but America’s VetDogs provides its services completely free of charge to the individual.  

America’s VetDogs was the second assistance dog school in the United States to be accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation and Assistance Dogs International. 

Watch Charlie, an America’s VetDogs service dog in-training, daily on NBC’s TODAY.