CHITTENANGO — Clear Path for Veterans celebrated its Class of 2022 for Veterans and Service Dogs, consisting of 10 veterans and their dogs last Saturday.
The start of this year marks the first class of Clear Path’s new puppy development program, which specializes in the breeding and training of service dogs bred by partner breeders across the country.
“There are no words to express my gratitude for having experienced this journey with every veteran and service dog that is part of this year’s launch ceremony,” said National Director of Canine Programming, Ryan Woodruff.
“These partnerships are truly transformational, and I was thrilled to witness their hard work to bring this program to fruition,” added the Director of Canine Programming.
Cazenovia Mayor Kurt Wheeler was the opening speaker for the ceremony, which included a leash transition ceremony from canine guardian to veteran and a dinner for all graduates prepared in-house by Chef Mike Sheets of Clear Path.
“The start of the Canine Program is truly a pivotal moment for everyone involved,” said Skylar McClure, Client Services Coordinator for the Clear Path for Veterans’ Canine Program.
“We are incredibly grateful for all of the time and effort of all of the Canine Program volunteers, Clear Path supporters and community members who impacted our graduate veteran clients and their service dogs,” said said McClure.
“I am so thrilled that we can come together and witness this celebratory milestone,” added the Guest Services Coordinator.
The Clear Path for Veterans canine program was established in 2011. A decade later, the program continues to place service dogs with veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTS) and traumatic brain injury ( TBI), allowing veterans to connect with their dog. companions on a mutually beneficial level.
This evidence-based training has been shown to be effective in alleviating PTSD-related symptoms and increasing self-compassion, according to officials at Clear Path for Veterans.
Woodruff, a Marine Corps veteran, has experienced these benefits firsthand as a former canine program participant and now as a national director.
“Humanity has connected with dogs for thousands of years in working and non-working capacities, including companionship,” Woodruff said.
“We have harnessed the power of the human-animal bond and are using it to provide veterans with an opportunity to thrive and grow beyond wrestling,” added the director of canine programming.
Clear Path for Veterans Canine Program is a candidate program for Assistance Dogs International (ADI), a governing body of providers ensuring best practices and high standards in the industry.
Clear Path anticipates accreditation this year once the application process is complete.
As the program continues to grow, preparations are underway to eventually welcome veterans from the national landscape and beyond New York’s borders.
Clear Path for Veterans said these expansion efforts reflect the organization’s mission to inspire communities nationwide to invest in the well-being of service members, veterans and their families.