Soldier On launches K9 Support Program

Media Release

Tuesday, 14th February 2017

Soldier On launches K9 Support Program to assist veterans with everyday tasks

• Mrs Linda Hurley, Co-Patron of Soldier On, and His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales, today officially launched Soldier On’s K9 Support Program.
• Program aims to assist veterans experiencing anxiety, hypervigilance, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or a physical disability with everyday tasks.
• Pilot program launched in ACT and NSW with hopes of a national roll out at a later date.

Mrs Linda Hurley, Co-Patron of Soldier On, together with His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d), Governor of New South Wales, today officially launched Soldier On’s K9 Support Program.

The program aims to assist veterans experiencing anxiety, hypervigilance, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or a physical disability with everyday tasks.

Mrs Hurley commented: “I am honoured to launch the K9 Support Program. I know the importance of supporting our servicemen and women when they have returned home from operational service and the stresses that this can place on family life. This Program will assist them make the transition to everyday life, and re-engage with the community through the care and training of their service dog. This is a very strong step to help people to take control and rebuild their lives.”

A pilot of the program will be rolled out in the ACT and NSW, with hopes of a national roll out at a later date. Rob Marshall, National Services Director at Soldier On says the new initiative will complement Soldier On’s other services, including psychology support and social connected programs and activities.

“Soldier On is excited to launch our K9 Support Program because we have seen first-hand the difference service dogs can make in the lives of veterans impacted from their service to our country,” says Rob Marshall.

“These amazing dogs can be trained to enter a room and make sure it is empty before a veteran walks in, stand in front of a veteran and create a protective barrier and even provide physical contact to a veteran if they are experiencing a nightmare – these are tremendous benefits for veterans impacted by mental health issues and can significantly help them with everyday tasks.”

The program is being delivered to Soldier On by Integra Service Dogs Australia, which is run by two passionate and dedicated volunteers, Ken LLoyd and Ben Johnson. Ben explains that the program has been developed in partnership with an accredited service dogs provider and has been designed to ensure maximum benefits for veterans.

“As part of the program, veterans will be trained as dog handlers and will in turn train their own service dog. This program can have huge benefits for veterans, even reducing their medication in some instances,” says Ben Johnson.

Service dogs will be provided to veterans as part of the program but in some cases veterans can bring their own dog to the program, subject to suitability.

The pilot program kicks off in Canberra and Sydney with up to eight veterans taking part. The program will work side-by-side, and in addition to, a veteran’s psychological treatment.

To learn more about Soldier On visit http://soldieron.org.au

Media Contacts: Nicole Thomson-Pride, nicole.thomson-pride@soldieron.org.au, 0428 076 773

February 14, 2017