Q: How do I apply for an assistance/service dog from you?
Complete the Application for Service Dog and return it to us via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or return it via the USPS mail to Veterans Moving Forward, Inc., P.O. Box 404, Catharpin, VA 20143 or send via fax to 703.566.4853. Filing an application does not guarantee receipt of a service dog. This completed application starts the dialog that will occur during several interviews via the telephone and in person with you and your health care team. Please note that you will need to provide proof of your military service and your health challenges or disability.
Q: What type of dog breeds do you use?
A: VMF's current team of "comfort" and therapy dogs consists of Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Lab-Golden mixes and a Doberman Pinscher. We are open to using other breeds if the dogs can meet our standards and those of the nationally recognized organizations that evaluate and register therapy teams, e.g., Delta Society Pet Partners®, Therapy Dogs, Inc. ® or Therapy Dogs International (TDI®) for therapeutic work.
Q: How old are your dogs when placed into service?
A: The average age for an assistance/service dog is approximately two years old. Each dog is different and matures at different times. When a VMF dog is placed into service depends on how and where that dog will be used and his/her own talents, skills, abilities and temperament.
Q: How can I join your organization?
A: Contact VMF via the “contact us” page of the Web site or call toll-free 866-375-1209 to tell us more about yourself and to request an interview. We have many needs and roles for volunteers’ talents and skills. From any location, within your local or virtual community, you could help VMF spread the word about the needs of our Nation’s disabled veterans and how canine therapy and service dogs can help them during recovery and rehabilitation. For anyone living in the Middle Atlantic states who is capable of traveling to the Washington, DC metropolitan area to participate in outreach activities with veterans or join our animal-assisted activities or animal-assisted therapy via the “comfort” dog or therapy-dog team program - please complete the Application for Comfort Dog Team and return it to us via email to email@example.com.
Q: If I raise a puppy for you, will I have to give up my puppy/dog?
A: If your dog is qualified to be an assistance/service dog and capable of assisting a veteran who is visually impaired, hard of hearing, mobility challenged, or prone to seizures, you will give up your beloved charge to assist a veteran with moving forward with his/her life. We think the pain of giving up your special canine friend will be lessened knowing that he/she is doing wonderful things by mitigating the disability for a veteran who has given so much for the rest of us. We'd be happy to get you involved in raising another puppy/dog and/or working with a dog that remains in your charge and can be used in a facility or for therapy work or in our "comfort" dog program.
Q: Do I have to incur all the expenses for a puppy I raise for your organization?
A: VMF expects that you can cover most of the care, feeding and miscellaneous outfitting expenses for a purposely-bred puppy that we’ll provide. VMF will pay for any significant medical costs and negotiates with local veterinarians who discount their professional services. *Please note that as a nonprofit that relies solely on the generosity of donors, VMF values your contributions and will provide you a tax-deductible receipt to reflect your cash or in-kind donations made to VMF during the tax year.
Q: How do I apply to be a puppy raiser?
A: Complete the Puppy Raiser Application and mail it to us at: Veterans Moving Forward, Inc., P.O. Box 404, Catharpin, VA 20143 or return it as a PDF attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Am I eligible for your help if I am not a recent combat veteran or part of the Wounded Warrior Project?
A: VMF supports U.S. veterans of the armed services of the U.S. of all ages, generations, wars and campaigns and with physical or mental health challenges resulting from war, disease or an injury, such as a motor vehicle accident.
Q: Where do you operate?
A: VMF is incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia where most of our volunteers and staff live and the majority of our service dog-veteran placement training occurs. Veterans within the continental US who are seeking a VMF service dog are required to meet with us in northern Virginia for a series of interviews and initial training sessions which are scheduled over several days and often spaced several weeks or a month apart. As a national, nonprofit, public charity we will educate and advise veterans in need anywhere in the USA.
Q: Why did you start Veterans Moving Forward?
A: There is an overwhelming need to help veterans today. We know that our Federal and state governments can only do so much and that communities need to help individual soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines – and Coast Guardsmen/women. We believe that we have a unique program to help many veterans. Our research shows that all of the organizations that are providing service dogs to disabled Americans working together cannot reach <.2% of the need amongst veterans and military personnel.
Q: Where do you obtain or acquire your dogs/puppies?
A: As often as possible we will purchase puppies from qualified breeders who are operating service-disabled, veteran-owned, small businesses (SDVOSBs). We will not go to puppy mills nor animal shelters. We will accept donations from qualified breeders, and we will partner with other service dog organizations.
Q: Who trains your dogs/puppies?
A: We have a professional staff of dog trainers, animal behaviorists, psychologists, health care professionals, and veterans. We have experienced volunteers who have successfully trained service dogs for other organizations.
Q: How long does it take to train a service dog?
A: The dogs begin their training as soon as they enter our program, approximately at eight weeks of age as puppies. Volunteer puppy raisers take every opportunity to socialize and train their puppies and spend anywhere from five to ten minutes a day several times a day on basic skills in addition to attending weekly training classes conducted by a professional dog trainer and animal behaviorist. This will continue for approximately 12 to 15 months until the dogs are more mature and evaluated. Most of the dogs suited for full time assistance duty to mitigate a physical disability require 18-24 months to reach maturity and to learn and demonstrate proficiency of their advanced commands which are tailored to the needs of the individual veteran.
Q: How can I help?
Use the "donate" button on this Web site to make a tax-deductible contribution via credit card, or send a check individually or through a corporate matching program; donate your time as a volunteer VMF puppy raiser; train a dog to VMF standards; educate others about the needs of our veterans and the benefits of canine therapy in their recovery and rehabilitation; and THANK A VETERAN!