American Humane Association, the country’s first national humane organization and one that is celebrating a century of working with the U.S. military in 2016, has announced the launch of the Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs, thanks to a generous gift by its board member, the internationally renowned philanthropist Lois Pope. The announcement was made last night at the organization’s “Tribute to America’s Military Heroes” event in Palm Beach, where country music legend and board member Naomi Judd presented Mrs. Pope with the “Five-Star Champion of Military and Veterans Award.”
The new center will encompass a number of programs and initiatives reflecting both the organization’s and Mrs. Pope’s long-time shared commitment to the well-being of America’s veterans, including military service canines. They include:
• K-9 Battle Buddies™: Helping military K-9 teams on and off the battlefield by facilitating reunions of military dogs and handlers, sending vitally needed care packages to active duty military dog teams, and providing veterinary care for retired war dogs.
• Wags4Patriots™: Helping returning veterans cope with the hidden wounds of war by providing them with service dogs and conducting groundbreaking research on the important role these service dogs play.
• Operation Purple: Helping America’s littlest heroes and their families by sending registered therapy dog teams to the National Military Family Association’s camps for kids with one or more deployed parents and retreats for families with recently returned parents. In 2015 alone, American Humane Association supplied more than 100 teams to 21 camps, providing healing to nearly 2,000 children and memories that will last a lifetime.
• Red Star® for Warriors: This program redeploys our nation’s veterans to protect and serve on the home front in times of crisis as part of American Humane Association’s renowned Red Star mobilizations following hurricanes, tornadoes, and even terror attacks and major animal cruelty cases.
American Humane Association’s Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs will be led by Captain Jason Haag, USMC (Ret.), the organization’s National Director for Military Affairs. Capt. Haag served his country for 13 years and is now partnered with his service dog Axel, who was named the Service Dog of the Year at the 2015 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards®.
“Thanks to this transformational gift from philanthropist Lois Pope, not only will we be able to continue our proud 100-year legacy of protecting America’s bravest men, women, children, and animals, but we are opening a new century of caring, compassion and hope for America’s active duty, veterans, military families, and military animals,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association’s president and CEO. “Lois Pope is a true humane hero, and we and America’s warriors remain forever grateful for her vision and compassion.”
Mrs. Pope, who conceived and spearheaded the establishment of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in Washington, D.C. as the nation’s first and only permanent public tribute to the four million living disabled veterans and those who have died, said, “I have dedicated my life to two major philanthropic causes that are near and dear to my heart: helping America’s active duty warriors and veterans, and aiding the nation’s animals in need. There is only one organization in this country working to make a better world for all these groups, and that is American Humane Association. This new national resource will help more of those brave heroes – human and animal alike – who sacrifice so much to protect our freedom around the world.”
For a century, American Humane Association has worked with our nation’s military heroes, helping them on the battlefield and on the home front. The organization’s Red Star® Rescue program was born in 1916 on the battlefields of World War I Europe as it saved and cared for 68,000 war horses each month. In 1945 American Humane Association helped pioneer and promote the use of healing animal-assisted therapy to veterans coming home from World War II. The organization continues this proud legacy today with work to help members of the armed forces, and American Humane Association’s Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs will be a major new resource supporting our military men, women, families, and extraordinary, highly trained K-9 warriors.
Just months ago, American Humane Association secured a major victory for veterans and military working dogs everywhere with the passage of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which contained language supported by the organization guaranteeing the return of all retired military working dogs to U.S. soil and giving their former human handlers the first right at adoption so these Battle Buddies can heal together. American Humane Association is also working with Banfield Pet Hospital to provide free veterinary care to retired military working dogs. Last week, the organization held a special event at its Washington, D.C. headquarters with the Military Working Dog Team Support Association to pack and send some 200 critical care packages to active duty war dog teams deployed around the world.
The “Tribute to America’s Military Heroes” event made for a heroic evening in Palm Beach with some of the most distinguished military heroes speaking out for our nation’s warriors, including honored guest USMC Colonel Scott D. Campbell, the Commanding Officer of the Wounded Warrior Regiment in Quantico; Honorary Event Chair and American Humane Association National Ambassador Sergeant Matt Eversmann, a hero of the Battle of Mogadishu and the inspiration for the movie “Black Hawk Down”; and Honorary Event Chair and American Humane Association National Ambassador Colonel Dick Baumer, a veteran with a distinguished military career who managed the military working dog kennels in Vietnam, and now serves as vice president for the Military Working Dog Team Support Association.
To learn more about American Humane Association’s Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs and all their military programs, please visit http://www.AmericanHumane.org/military/.