Tuesday, 17 October 2017 18:26

Non-profit allows veterans to train "Salute of Service" dogs Featured

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BANGOR - A non-profit in Bangor is making the term "man's best friend" more meaningful for veterans.

"We've got a bond nobody could ever break," said Bill Jones, a Marine veteran.

Jones is referring to his dog.

"She's been a pet but also therapy for me, just like family," Jones said.

The pair is part of Salute of Service, a Maine-based service dog training program for veterans.

The non-profit offers free training to help service men and women.

"We serve veterans from any era with any disability," said Kathy Hecht, president and head trainer at Salute of Service.

All dogs are trained to help with PTSD, as well as other services to cater to each veteran's needs.

"She helps me with mobility and stability and can detect whether my blood sugar is high or low," said Billie Ward, a U.S. Navy veteran.

"It lets them basically do and enjoy everything they did prior to going into the service," said Hecht.

What's unique about this program is that the veterans train directly with the dog, building a relationship from day one.

"The veterans actually get the benefit of being able to say they trained their own dog," said Hecht. "The training process helps them with the healing process."

This experience gives a new meaning to the term "man's best friend".

"Indy is all of that and a lot more," Ward said. "Indy found me freedom, independence."

Salute of Service is always accepting donations to begin training more teams. For more information, check out the Salute of Service Facebook page or call Kathy Hecht at (207) 323-4460.

Kayla Fish

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Kayla joined the ABC 7 & FOX 22 news team in May of 2017. She got into journalism because she loves talking with people, and she's incredibly grateful to share the stories of Mainers throughout the region.

She got her start in broadcasting way back in middle school as a member of a morning announcements TV broadcast club, and her love for the news industry took off from there.

Kayla graduated from Penn State University in 2017 with degrees in broadcast journalism and Spanish. During her time as a student at Penn State, Kayla was an executive producer and reporter for the "Centre County Report", an Emmy award-winning student-run newscast. She studied abroad in Ronda, Spain and traveled to Panama with an international reporting class. Kayla kept busy in college, spending four years working as a student manager in the dining hall.

Kayla grew up in the village of Shawnee-on-Delaware, located in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, so transitioning into life in Vacationland was a piece of cake! A self-described winter fanatic, she loves all things snow related, including hitting the slopes on her snowboard. She also likes hiking, kayaking or doing anything outdoors. She loves meeting new people so if you see her around, be sure to stop and say hi!