Skip to Content

Paws for Purple Hearts: Healing Heroes

In the world of therapeutic support and rehabilitation, innovative approaches can make a significant impact. One such approach is Paws for Purple Hearts (PPH), a unique organization dedicated to improving the lives of veterans and active-duty service members through the power of canine companionship. Founded on the principle that dogs can be more than just pets, PPH trains service dogs to provide critical support to those who have sacrificed for their country. The Coalition proudly supports this organization through the Joseph P. Caggiano Memorial Golf Tournament. This year’s event marks the second year the Coalition will be supporting PPH through the tournament on August 21 at the Whiskey Creek Golf Club in Ijamsville, Maryland. Last year, the Coalition raised $13,000 for the charity thanks to the generosity of our members and guests. To learn more about the Joseph P. Caggiano Memorial Tournament and registration, click here.

PPH was established to extend the benefits of canine therapy to veterans suffering from a range of trauma-related conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), as well as other combat-related injuries. Launched in 2006, PPH began as a research program at the prestigious Bergin College of Canine Studies, which was founded and continues to be led by innovative Dr. Bonnie Bergin who created the service dog concept. PPH remains the only organization for veterans and wounded service members that partners with Bergin College. The organization’s mission is twofold: to assist in the recovery of veterans through canine-assisted therapy, and to train service dogs that will eventually be paired with veterans in need. To celebrate the anniversary of International Assistance Dog Week, PPH recently revealed its brand-new video that highlights its mission and showcases its dedication to improving the lives of veterans across the country.

The heart of PPH’s program lies in its innovative training model, known as Canine Assisted Warrior Therapy®. Through this approach, veterans themselves participate in service dog training. Throughout the training, the dogs learn how to perform specific tasks tailored to assist veterans with mobility challenges, like retrieving items, opening doors, and providing physical support. Once a service dog is trained and ready to serve, PPH turns to Bergin College’s science-based matching methodology to pair the dog with a veteran in need of long-term assistance. Take a look at PPH Ruther Glen’s 2022 graduation class in action here.

The impact of PPH on the lives of veterans is profound. By engaging in Canine Assisted Warrior Therapy®, veterans learn valuable skills, regain confidence, and experience the emotional support that comes from bonding with other people and with dogs. In addition, veterans’ interactions throughout the program help to alleviate symptoms of PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Once fully trained, service dogs play a crucial role in improving the quality of life for veterans by performing tasks for those with physical impairments, promoting social interaction, providing companionship and a calming presence throughout the day, and detecting oncoming medical episodes. To date, PPH has held over 15,000 therapy sessions and impacted the lives of more than 10,000 veterans and wounded service members. The extensive benefits of PPH can best be told by veterans themselves. Listen to the story of David Wright, a retired Army Sergeant who took part in Canine Assisted Warrior Therapy® in 2019, and his service dog Scout. David and Scout worked together in therapy sessions until they ultimately were paired during team training. Another veteran, Major Duncan Smith shared his experiences on getting started with PPH, the challenges he was facing, and how the program has changed his life. Listen to his story here.

The Coalition is honored to support PPH through the Joseph P. Caggiano Memorial Golf Tournament, and we remain committed to honoring Joe’s legacy by supporting our nation’s heroes. We extend our heartfelt thanks to our members for their generous support of the event each year, which makes a significant difference in the lives of those who have served. We look forward to seeing you again this year on August 21.

The Coalition also would like to give a special thank you to our current sponsors of the Joseph P. Caggiano Memorial Golf Tournament. The significant contributions of our sponsors play a crucial role in making this event a continued success and leaving an impact on the lives of veterans. To learn more about the variety of sponsorship opportunities, click here.

Back to top