Byline: Kaylea Berry/Reporter
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Veterans Affairs Service Office started a companion dog program, “Thank You for Your Service.” The program is to help place dogs specifically bred to be therapy dogs with veterans. The companion dogs are golden doodles, miniature Aussies, and toy Aussies. However, the dogs are not already trained because they need to be trained specifically for the veteran’s need(s).
A Goldendoodle therapy dog breeder reached out to Grover Wind, MCN VASO Director, to see if VASO could accept dogs as a donation for veterans. Wind explained that when dogs have specific markings or different colored eyes, breeders cannot sell them as therapy dogs. Although, this Goldendoodle breeder has a heart for the veterans and wants to donate them.
The office was already discussing how they could help the veterans. However, they were unprepared for the dogs and took time to think it through.
After reading a story about a girl giving her veteran father a therapy dog and the impact it had on his life, Wind knew this was something that would be a great benefit.
There was no policy in place to support the program. The policy was written for the program, and adjustments are being considered.
Wind says, “We’re still in the initial stages and learning what to do.”
When the program began, a breeder in Arkansas heard the stories about what the program was doing. They wanted to contribute to the cause and donated 12 dogs.
“Thank You for Your Service” started in April 2022. Since then, 15 dogs have been donated, and eight have been adopted.
“It’s an amazing Program, and we want veterans to take advantage of it,” said Veterans Affairs Service Office Operations Officer Rachel Riddle.
There is an application to participate in the program available at the VASO. The application is one page, simple, and quick to fill out. There is no disability rating required to participate. If you have not already signed up with the VASO for benefits, you must bring a copy of your DD-214 and tribal citizenship card.
The program is available to all tribal veterans, even applicants who might live beyond the reservation boundaries. However, the dogs are distributed from the office at 1006 Bear Lane, Okmulgee, OK 74447.
If you are interested in the “Thank You for Your Service” adoption program or know a veteran who may be interested, please contact the MCN VASO at 918-732-7739. Keep up to date with what the VASO is doing by liking their Facebook page, Muscogee Nation Veterans Affairs