Brookeville, MD – Joined today by Maryland Senator Bryan Simonaire (District 31, Anne Arundel County) Hero Dogs Founder Jennifer Lund, and Hero Dogs Executive Director Nikki Charles, Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary George Owings awarded the first Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program Fund Grant. Joining the small gathering of staff from Hero Dogs was Robert Finn, Deputy Secretary and Dana Burl, Director of Outreach and Advocacy for Maryland’s Department of Veterans Affairs. The $10,000 grant was the first one awarded since the Program became law.
During the 2017 Maryland Legislative Session, SB441 created the Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program and Fund in the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs. Introduced by Senator Simonaire and approved by Governor Hogan on May 4, the Program took effect July 1, 2017. The Governor in 2018 also appropriated $150,000 in general funds for the Fund. Three service animal organizations are now participating in the program: Hero Dogs, Warrior Canine Connection and Fidos for Freedom. Each of the programs may receive grants for pairing eligible veterans with service animals once they are trained and ready for placement. The Program also raises awareness of the benefits service animals provide to military veterans.
“Our administration is committed to ensuring Maryland’s veterans have access to the resources they need to successfully transition to civilian life,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “We are proud to support organizations like Hero Dogs, who work tirelessly to improve the quality of life for our nation’s heroes – our veterans.”
“As the son of a veteran, I so appreciate the tireless work of Hero Dogs and the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Senator Bryan Simonaire. “In an area where the need far exceeds the resources, this wonderful partnership provides more help to our heroic and vulnerable veterans.”
“Service animals can provide support and improved quality of life to a veteran living with disabilities,” said George Owings, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs. “On behalf of Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, I am pleased to thank Hero Dogs and award them with this grant.”
“With this generous grant, the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs continues to illustrate its commitment to innovative and effective programs,” said Hero Dogs Executive Director Nikki Charles. “These programs help alleviate the challenges experienced by those who have sacrificed so much.”
To learn more about the Maryland Veterans Service Animal Program and Fund please contact Dana Burl, Outreach Director, Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-260-3842.
The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs is a State Government Executive Department with a service mission to assist veterans, active duty service members, their families and dependents, in securing benefits earned through military service. Learn more about the Department at veterans.maryland.gov.