Yesterday students at Scott Elementary School in Naperville were paid a special visit from the team at V.E.T. Service Dogs.
The nonprofit group is on a mission to help veterans suffering from trauma from their time in the service. The visit gave students a chance to hear about the group’s purpose in an age-appropriate way – with the help of the team’s four-legged friends.
More Than a Pet
According to V.E.T. Service Dogs Co-Founder Sonia Campos-Marchiori, “We rescue and raise service dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress, TBI or MST, so we also accept veterans that have dogs if the dog passes our temperament test. And we train the dog to be a service dog to alert to that veteran. And we provide the service dogs to the veterans at no cost for the veterans.”
The dogs are specially trained to alert to the veterans when they are having anxiety, in a situation like a panic attack or nightmare.
About the Program
Students rotated in groups to meet with the veterans and their service dogs, and learned of the special rules for these particular animals. As the dogs are on duty, handlers ask that the public doesn’t talk to or touch them, to avoid distraction. The program helped give students some insight into issues that veterans may have which aren’t always visible. It was a change of pace from programs the school has had in the past.
According to Scott School Principal Hugh Boger, “Oftentimes the veterans that come to our Veterans Ceremony are grandfathers and grandmothers and great uncles. And to a certain degree, our students think that veterans are somebody that is a senior citizen. As you can see today, veterans are young and don’t meet the stereotypes, if you will, of a veteran. I think it’s important for students to understand that.”
As a veteran of the Marine Corps, Boger noted firsthand the special significance of these events.
“I can speak, I think, for veterans to see students at the elementary age, who are taking a moment to honor veterans, is especially meaningful to know that generation after generation understands what it means to serve your country in this way.”
Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.
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