The Wisconsin VFW and it’s Auxiliary are proud to announce this year's joint special project. We are excited for a partnership to raise funds for the Life Buddy Program by Sierra Delta.
Sierra Delta is a non-profit based out of Madison, Wisconsin, which provides life buddy services to Veterans throughout Wisconsin and beyond.
Founded by Marine Corps Veteran B.J Ganim, Sierra Delta works to empower every veteran with access to approved dog training that provides purpose innovation and community through the love of dogs.
"After I was injured in 2004 I lost my leg in Iraq due at an IED. I struggled on the way back not so much as nightmares or anything but just loss of purpose and I did all the stereotypical things that veterans do; drank too much, got in trouble with the law - and it was an Old English Bulldog that I got on my very first convalescent leave from Walter Reed that really helped me see through my depression and find my way through. He had no special training, no special breeding, but it's this relationship that dogs provide us. It can really make us better and you know in the world there's a lot of dogs that need a good home and there's a lot of vets that need a good life buddy in their home."
Having an everlasting bond with your canine can improve your mental health which can then improve your relationships with family, friends, and get you back into the communities you live in.
"So what got me into Sierra Delta is the community and really the love for dogs. I was struggling with PTSD, Survivor Guild from my wife passing away in 2011 and just didn't want to live much anymore.
So through my therapist at the VA she said you would benefit from a service animal, l want you to meet Sierra Delta and within 72 hours of contacting them I was approved into the program and started training right away.
This is my service dog Sage. Sage has helped me just in so many phenomenal different ways. One of the first things I really struggled with was nightmares and flashbacks so when I would have nightmares he was trained to lick my face to wake me up, he'd lay on my legs when my legs were flailing around to kind of give me that comfort that I needed and as we progressed through more training and I started getting much better because he was there with me I started to go out, I started to venture out"
The Auxiliary has a long history of supporting and assisting veterans and their families. By participating in this project, the members of the Auxiliary can give freedom and hope to those who need it most, our veterans.
A life buddy dog can change the lives of people, families and communities in Wisconsin who are struggling with mental health.
"My name is Kenna Midsich; I'm a United States Army veteran. I've got PTSD due to military sexual trauma; so my battle wasn't actually overseas it was actually on the home front. Rip is my dog that I received from Sierra Delta, and I was a recipient of a program called buddy program as my life buddy is going to provide me an opportunity to get out of bed every day."
Building awareness about this project is a key ingredient to helping more veterans receive dogs and gaining more support to be able to provide them at no charge.
Not only do we hope to provide tools for veterans to strengthen their bond with their canine companions, we also aim to beat the VFW in friendly competition and show what it means when we say no one does more for veterans.
Auxiliary members Statewide will hold awareness events about this project and hold fundraisers to raise the monies we need to support our cause.
Donations by check made out to VFWA-WI should be sent to:
Department Treasurer Lenore Otto
1383 West Wisconsin Ave.
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
Memo Line: President's Special Project (PSP).
VFW and auxiliary members have a highly competitive Spirit when it comes to who does more for our veterans; there is no way that the VFW has a chance to win the bragging rates for this one. The Auxiliary, paws down, is the best when we have the opportunity to help in the rehabilitation of a veteran to start a new life. Together we will "Bee the Change" as we are "Banding Together for Our Veterans."
Let's show Wisconsin that we can meet the challenge of re-engaging our veterans and provide a new Mission with the life buddy that allows the veteran to reintegrate and become part of their family and communities again.
Let's focus on our mission first and family always.
About Sierra Delta