Frequently Asked Questions about the VMF Service Dog Placement Process
Q: How do I apply for a service dog from Veterans Moving Forward (VMF)?
A: Complete the Service Dog Application and return it to us via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, via the US mail to Veterans Moving Forward, Inc., 44225 Mercure Circle, Suite 130, Dulles, VA 20166, or via fax to 703.566.3091.
Q: What is the VMF Service Dog Placement Process?
A: The information you provide in the Service Dog Application is reviewed and you will be contacted for any clarifications and follow-up actions. There will be several phone and/or e-mail conversations with you to ensure your application package is complete and to address any questions you may have. VMF requires a current, up-to-date medical history to include current medications, treatment plans, and evidence of compliance with treatment, etc. VMF has board-certified health care professionals as members of our veteran-canine placement committee and they will communicate with your health care team to help determine if a service dog is appropriate for you. You will need to ensure a signed “release form” is on file with your health care team to ensure they will accept VMF inquiries to confirm your patient status and to discuss your condition(s) with your doctors, nurses and other members of your healthcare team. Once your application package and preliminary interviews are complete, VMF will arrange a visit, generally over a weekend, for you to travel to VMF’s Canine Training and Veteran Support Center in Northern Virginia. This weekend visit consists primarily of two critical meetings of a couple hours duration each that occur on separate days during the weekend. The first meeting is with the medical professionals on the veteran-canine placement team to review your medical history and current medications, and to discuss your disability. This meeting is intended to ensure VMF knows all it needs to in order to determine if VMF’s services can help you.
After your weekend visit with VMF and if the Veteran-Canine teams and you, the Veteran, agree we can work together then we take the next steps in your journey with VMF to acquire a Service dog. Members of our Veteran-canine placement team will work with you to schedule a visit to your home and local community. VMF’s Director of Canine Operations will be in contact with you to discuss specifics about your challenges and the skills that your matched ADIT will be working on during their Veteran specific training. Again, we need to know about you and your lifestyle in order to tailor the designated dog’s training to your specific situation and needs.
Q: How long does the VMF Service Dog Placement Process take?
A:The placement process can take several months. To aid in the process, please ensure you submit a complete Service Dog Application packet with all required information. The availability of yourself and your medical team to conduct phone interviews also impacts the length of the process. Your schedule and availability to travel (with a companion) to VMF for in-person interviews and to meet the canines in training is generally what takes the longest time and is the most challenging to coordinate.
Q: What is involved in my in-person interview at VMF’s Canine Training and Veteran Support Center?
A: VMF Veteran-Canine placement team will review your application concentrating on your disabilities and expectations for the service dog. The interview is typically done in VMF’s Canine Training and Veteran Support Center in Dulles, Virginia. We also discuss potential service dog matches - short term or longer range if we do not currently have a dog that meets your needs.
Q: How long do I need to stay at VMF for my in-person interviews?
A:You will need to be here at least two days for the two meetings described above Ideally, we work around a weekend - Saturday and Sunday, or Sunday into Monday.
Q: Am I required to travel or is the dog brought to me?
A: You must be able to travel from your hometown to VMF’s Canine Training and Veteran Support Center in Dulles, Virginia at least twice, and sometimes three times. The first travel is for weekend meetings with VMF’s Veteran Canine placement team to discuss your medical condition and with VMF’s assistance dog in training team to meet potential canine partners. The second travel is for a week-long series of training sessions with your designated canine partner. We ask that you bring along a companion (spouse, adult child, parent, friend or health care advocate who knows you) on these visits.
Q: If I’m flying, what airport should I choose?
A:The closest airports to the VMF Canine Training and Veteran Support Center are Dulles International (IAD) or Ronald Reagan National (DCA).
Q: Who is responsible for making travel arrangements to VMF’s Canine Training and Veteran Support Center?
A: VMF asks that you, the veteran, make your own travel arrangements in consultation with VMF’s Veteran Coordinator. VMF’s partner organization, the Navy Marine Coast Guard Residence Foundation provides lodging at Vinson Hall in McLean, Virginia at no cost to you or your companion(s). VMF will arrange transportation between Vinson Hall and VMF’s Canine Training and Veteran Support Center during these visits.
Q: What expenses am I responsible for when traveling to VMF’s Canine Training and Veteran Support Center?
A:We ask that you pay for a portion of your trip to meet with us — the exact amount is negotiable. We can work with a local (to your home town) veteran service organization and seek their financial support or sponsorship of your trip. Food and incidentals, as well as ground transportation to and from the arrival and departure airport are your responsibility. Rental car or ground transportation may be required in those instances where VMF is not able to provide ground transportation.
Q: Is there financial support for veterans to obtain flights to VMF’s Canine Training and Veteran Support Center?
A: Yes. Recommend you research and contact www.aircompassionforveterans.org, a partner of American Airlines, for free airline tickets for you and/or a companion if you’re traveling to obtain medical treatment or a service dog. Call 888-662-6794. You, as the disabled veteran, are required to make this call and provide details to the charity, the airlines and TSA; VMF cannot do this for you. You can share with them that Veterans Moving Forward is a nonprofit organization and public charity under IRS code 501(c)(3) and located in northern Virginia. 27-3117964 is the federal tax ID for Veterans Moving Forward, Inc..
Q: How much does it cost to obtain a VMF Service Dog?
A:VMF provides the trained service dog at no cost to the veteran. The veteran is responsible for the whole amount or a portion of the travel expenses to and from VMF’s Canine Training and Veteran Support Center for your scheduled trips.
Q: What is required of me, the veteran, after a VMF Service Dog has been selected for me?
A: Prior to receiving your VMF Service Dog, we ask you to do the following:
Q: What training do I receive after I have been matched with a VMF Service Dog?
A: After the appropriate canine partner has been selected for you, you will need to return to VMF’s Canine Training and Veteran Support Center for a week-long intensive training in situations similar to your home environment, community, and lifestyle. This will help you make the transition back home with your new service dog. After you return home you will continue your training with the local trainer that has been identified to support you.
Q. What type of contracts or formal agreements do I have to sign when I receive my Service Dog from VMF?
A:After your week long training at VMF Headquarters you, a member of the Canine Placement team and a VMF board member will have a meeting to sign a PROBATIONARY CONTRACT. This contract is to ensure that you will continue training with your VMF Service Dog once you return home, maintain the dog’s health and wellbeing and complete and submit monthly reports to the VMF Director of Canine Operations. A FINAL CONTRACT will be signed between you and VMF once you have successfully taken and passed the Public Access Test, this process typically takes about 6 months. The Public Access test ensures that you and your VMF Service Dog can meet the standards outlined for a Service Dog Team. This test states that for dogs to be certified for access to public places they must pass a standardized test.
Q: Is there follow-on training once I receive my service dog?
A:Yes, VMF will work with you to select a professional dog trainer in your area. This local trainer will provide additional training and coaching until you successfully pass your Public Access test (PAT) with your VMF Service Dog. This is typically a 6-month process. During the first 3 months of placement you are required to meet weekly with your local trainer. After 3 months if you and your VMF Service dog are making progress, these training sessions become bi-monthly until successfully passing the PAT.
Q: Who pays for the professional dog trainer in my area?
A: Each situation is different and totally negotiable. Most of our professional dog trainer colleagues offer highly discounted services; sometimes they offer their services pro bono. Bottom line: VMF will work with you to ensure this is covered and suitable for all parties to include finding sponsorship from a charitable organization in your community, or picking up the tab if needed.
Q: Am I eligible for a VMF Service Dog if I am not a recent combat veteran, part of the Wounded Warrior Project or did not receive a Purple Heart?
A: VMF’s services are available to any veteran of any generation that served honorably, has physical and/or mental challenges and can benefit from a service dog. Eligible veterans are those veterans of any age, who served honorably and whose disability is a result of military operations and/or accident or disease, experienced during or subsequent to their military service, and who live in the continental United States.