Operation Mutt 22

Operation Mutt 22

Operation Mutt 22

by Barbara Scott-Kolb

Two men protecting our country in the Middle East have returned with another mission in mind – transform the lives of our deserving veterans. Marine Justin Rie and Navy member Jordan DeArmond established a foundation called Operation Mutt 22, which trains and delivers service dogs to veterans who return home suffering from extreme emotional and physical trauma that is often too difficult to overcome alone.

The foundation stemmed from Rie and DeArmond’s personal experiences in the military. Rie, for example, came back experiencing PTSD from the field. With hesitation, he accepted his wife’s advice to get a service dog. “My German Shepherd service dog was a huge upping point to my lifestyle and my marriage. My dog saved my life.” Rie added, “These dogs give us the opportunity to fit back into a world that is not entirely accepting of veterans because of our language, behavior, and ways of thinking.”

The goal of Operation Mutt 22 is not only to help pair veterans with a friendly service dog but also accelerate the time it takes to properly, effectively, and legally train service dogs to deliver them to veterans. To receive a service dog through Veteran Affairs is roughly a three-year process – an overwhelmingly long wait time for those men and women who have served our country.

Rie and DeArmond’s foundation can do so much faster while training the dogs on their own with no charge to veterans. Since their vision’s inception, Operation Mutt 22 has now gone nationwide. Beginning with basic obedience training, the team gradually guides them to behave appropriately in various environments and teaches the dog to serve the specific need of the veteran –whether that be PTSD alerting, seizure response, or serving as a mobility or stability partner.

“After returning home, it took me six years to simply go to a movie with my wife,” Rie said. “My dog makes it so much easier to visit uncomfortable environments, which allows my wife to not miss out on life by trying to manage me.” Lantana businesswoman, Lisa Clark met Rie at a local networking event. After a conversation of Rie’s mission with Operation Mutt 22, Clark decided to assist the foundation in any way she could.

“After Justin shared his story, I realized how important these dogs are in the lives of our veterans. His story spoke to me and became pressed on my heart to bring awareness to the importance of service dogs,” Clark said. Operation Mutt 22 is now training Clark’s dog, River. Clark offers her business expertise and is a dedicated activist for the foundation.

The trainers at Operation Mutt 22 are committed to instructing these amazing animals promptly and to be of assistance throughout a veteran’s journey with their dog. Veterans are encouraged to send an application for a service dog to operationmutt22@gmail.com and visit the foundation’s Facebook page Operation Mutt 22 to view River’s story and others on the impact of service dogs.

 

Contact their office for more information at 817.781.1624.

photos courtesy of Operation Mutt 22


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