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Battle Buddies seeks veterans for service dog program

Daily Star-Journal - 11/26/2018

Nov. 26--WARRENSBURG -- The search is on "for a few good veterans who need a service dog."

Charles Beesley, Cole Camp, is a trainer for Battle Buddies, a nonprofit service dog provider in Missouri, and he visited Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2513 in November. The dog and training is free to qualified veterans.

Veteran, Mark Heimkes, and his wife, Julie, own and operate the company.

The mission is simple -- provide U.S. military veterans diagnosed with service-related post traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury with service dogs.

They pair rescued dogs with the veterans and train them together to build a trusting bond similar to the battle buddy the veteran had while serving, the Battle Buddy website states.

Beesley has a service dog, Freyja, who he has owned since she was 8 weeks old.

"We have veterans who bring dogs to us," he said. "They have to be assessed for temperament and how the dog responds to external factors. I started training with her at six months."

Freyja provides advance notice of rising anxiety.

"With her, the crowded areas aren't so bad," Beesley said. "She alerts me to changing temperament."

That is the purpose of a service dog, he said, to notice something before the veteran does.

Dogs can be trained to help with balance and mobility issues, irritability and bad nightmares.

Service dogs are expensive, and Battle Buddies provides them at no cost to the veteran, a value of between $7,000 and $30,000, according to an internet search.

"We depend on donations and volunteers," Beesley said. "Dogs are evaluated at a shelter to determine suitability as a service dog."

To apply for a service dog or donate materials or money, visit battlebuddyservicedogs. com.

"We have the dogs and we have trainers," Beesley said. "What we need now are veterans who need those dogs."


(c)2018 The Daily Star-Journal (Warrensburg, Mo.)

Visit The Daily Star-Journal (Warrensburg, Mo.) at www.dailystarjournal.com

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