Azalea Charities Provides
Service Dog for Disabled Veteran
Prince William County, VA March 1, 2011 – As part of its commitment to Aid for Wounded Warriors, Azalea Charities has provided $5,000 for the training of a service dog as a companion for disabled Army Captain Mark Jeffery of Harrison, Ohio. The dog, whose name is Gainor, is an 18-month old Labrador and Golden Retriever mix, obtained from Greater Dayton Lab Rescue and taught by trainer Fran Morford of KISS Service Dogs to respond to the special needs of Captain Jeffery.
Captain Jeffery suffers from severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as a result of his years of service in the US Army. Mark and Gainor will train with Fran Morford until April, learning to work together towards the day when Gainor becomes a permanent part of the Jeffery household. Fran says, “They make a perfect match. We got very lucky. The dog and partner need to have chemistry to form a lifelong bond.”
According to Jenny Jeffery, Mark’s wife, “I’ve seen how he is with the dog and without the dog and there’s definitely a huge change in Mark’s personality with Gainor.” She says the dog picks up on the anxiety created by Mark’s PTSD. If he sees his leg start to shake, Gainor puts his head on Mark’s lap for petting, which calms Mark down. If Gainor and Mark are out and become separated from Jenny, Gainor knows to “find Mommie” to bring everybody together. Mark walks with a cane, and sometimes stumbles, but Gainor is right there to act as a brace to prevent a fall or help him up. Gainor is so cued to Mark’s emotions, that he knows when Mark is overwhelmed, and will act actually stand in front of him as a barrier when people get too close. Gainor can even open and close doors and turn lights off and on.
“Mark has shut himself off from society”, says Jenny, “and Gainor helps him to stay calm and re-acclimate to a normal life.”
Jenny first found out about service dogs at a support group she belongs to for spouses of wounded warriors. “I knew that whatever I needed to do, I was going to get that dog,” she said. She discussed the need of a service dog with Susan Walters, an OEF/OIF Transition Patient Advocate for the Cincinnati VA Medical Center. Then one night she got a call from Frank Lasch, Founder and CEO of Azalea Charities. “I had no idea who he was, or that my request had been forwarded, but by the end of the conversation, I was in tears. I can’t say enough good things about Azalea Charities. They have been awesome.” Azalea Charities is an all-volunteer organization that provided $5,000 to pay for Gainor’s training as part of their Aid for Wounded Warriors program.
According to Lasch “Heroes like Mark Jeffery and his wife Jenny are the reason why Aid for Wounded Warriors exists. Since working with the Jeffery family, we have had another request for a service dog. We’re glad to give back to these warriors who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. We will continue to reach out to military and veterans institutions across the US to help as much as we can.”
About Azalea Charities
Azalea Charities is an 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization in Prince William County, Virginia. The organization is staffed entirely by volunteers who donate their time, talent and money. Azalea Charities raises funds for its community charities and Aid for Wounded Warriors through contributions and sponsorship of Team Azalea Charities in the Marine Corps Marathon and the Azalea Classic Pro-Am Invitational Golf Classic, the organization’s keystone event held each May at the Piedmont Club. Beyond minimal expenses, all the funds they raise go to their charitable core causes. Further information is available at www.azaleacharities.org.