Atlanta, GA – Blake “Top Dog” Rashad understands all too well the pain of PTSD. He is a veteran, and he has suffered with this disorder. Rashad is not alone. Thousands of veterans suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and many go through the remainder of their lives suffering in silence. Others may turn on their families, friends and themselves in an effort to cope.
“The current veteran suicide rate is around 22 per day. This is 22 more than it should be,” said Rashad. Although the VA (Veterans Administration) is looking into formulating a “action plan” to address the high rate of suicide among wounded warriors “No veteran should take their own life when there are so many available resources.”
Rashad is also a professional dog trainer, and he served in the U.S. military as a K-9 trainer. His goal is to prevent veteran suicides by creating bonds between specially trained animal companions and individuals suffering with PTSD and other Invisible Wounds such as TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury.) Blake and his wife Sheila Rashad started a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization designed to bring relief to veterans and their families through dog companions. Veterans Deserving Outstanding Generosity and Services, known as VDOGS, is their brainchild and passion.
The foundation has opened a new Crowdfunding Campaign on GoFundMe.com to help raise funds to provide service dogs free-of-charge to veterans in need, secure a kennel facility, and provide training needed so that these special animals can help military men and women and others that are disabled.
There is solid research to support the use of animal companions in the treatment of the sick and injured. Combat Veterans, who are coming home to a much different world than they left, often find that animal companions give them a sense of security and trust that human contact simply cannot match. Animals also offer a type of unconditional love that breaks through the tough exterior many military folk present.
“PTSD and PTS (Post Traumatic Stress) is a mental illness, and some veterans are ashamed to admit this. After all, the military preaches and teaches the dangers of weakness, and mental disabilities are seen as weak,” said Rashad. “This is where animal companions can really make a difference.”
The response to VDOG’s mission has been extremely positive—even attracting local celebrities who’d like to help. Wanda Smith, the popular morning personality on CBS Radio Atlanta’s V-103 The Ryan Cameron Morning Show with Wanda Smith donated her beloved German Shepherd (Oden) to the Top Dogg K9 Foundation, and the service dog has been successfully paired with Sergeant Willie Bell, a retired Army Veteran.
Running a non-profit is not a simple task. Training a service animal companion can be costly and time consuming. But for Blake “Top Dog” Rashad it is a labor of love, and a mission that promises to rescue people and animals. To support VDOGS in their goal to raise funds for this important work, go to their GoFundMe Campaign page and contribute, or visit http://www.vdogs.org/
About Top Dogg K-9 Foundation:
In 2011, Top Dogg K-9 Foundation was born, providing Service Dogs and Companion Dogs to people with disabilities. He also continues to educate veterans and family members on how to assist the companions with assisting their Battle Buddy’s. Servicing the needs of the veteran is first and foremost.
VDogs Publicity Manager
Sheila D. Rashad