South Jersey Woman Helps Wounded Vets and Homeless Dogs
March 3, 2014
By: David Matthau
A south Jersey woman has founded a special organization that's dedicated to training rescue and
shelter dogs to assist soldiers with physical and psychological disabilities returning home from Iraq
Brook Corson says the group - Mutts with a Mission - "is our way of giving back to them - I mean they
give their independence for us…the dogs are trained to pick things up for them, they carry backpacks
for them…these dogs can alert the individuals when it's time to take their medicine."
She says some of her service dogs are specially trained to help veterans with psychological problems
like post traumatic stress disorder.
"The dogs help to ground individuals in what's going on right this minute" she says, "if they start to
disassociate, the dog, through touch, brings them back to the present time…maybe the dog licks their
face, maybe - depending on the size of the dog - he can jump up in their lap."
She says "it's our way of offering a helping hand …these guys are sacrificing for us…they went over
there to defend our freedom… and every time I read of another suicide, I think to myself somebody
could have stepped in and helped that person."
You can find out more about the group at muttswithamission.com
Dogs Of War
March 3, 2014
By:Thomas Petruzzelli Sr.
Since man first domesticated the dog more than 10,000 years ago, humans and canines have enjoyed
a long history of caring for one another. Considered man’s best friend, the dog has innate qualities
that positively affect the psyches of men and women. Courage, loyalty, obedience, patience, and love
are all traits demonstrated by dogs, traits that one might consider Divine. Spelled backwards, after all,
“dog” is “God.”
In addition to their companionship, our canine friends have been bred over the centuries as guard
dogs, search and rescue dogs, and shepherd dogs. Our police and the military have historically used
dogs for investigation of crime scenes, identification of illegal substances, and protection. Today,
dogs are making yet another contribution to our armed forces.
The U.S. military is under a great deal of stress because of the ongoing war in Iraq and the obligation to
guard other outposts across the globe; a soldier’s job is never done. With no one to share the burden
of mortal combat, a soldier can acquire a bleak perspective, which can have a negative affect upon his
or her mental health. In World War l, this syndrome was called Shell Shock; in World War II, it was
known as Battle Fatigue. Although not considered casualties of war, many veterans returning from
those conflicts have found it hard to cope with daily life. Even Lieutenant Audie Murphy, the most
decorated soldier of World War Il, suffered from Battle Fatigue.
Today, this syndrome is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. Our nation realizes that is
a serious problem with our military in the field as well as the service men and women returning home
from combat. Anger and frustration, sleeplessness, terror at hearing loud noises, and recurrent bad
dreams are some of the symptoms of PTSD.
Psychiatrists have discovered a useful tool in the treatment of this disorder, but it is not a tool per se. It
is, in fact, the dog. Specifically, it is dogs trained to use their inborn qualities to calm and assist
veterans who demonstrate signs of PTSD at home and abroad. Field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan
have noted a difference in the troops’ mental health through the use of these wonderful animals.
Here in Mays Landing, New Jersey, there is an establishment that trains dogs to aid and assist
veterans called “Mutts with a Mission, Inc.” When I interviewed the organization’s founder, Brooke
Corson, by telephone, I asked, “How did you become interested in training dogs for disabled
veterans?” Brooke shared that, as a Staff Sergeant at Fort Benning, Georgia, she had noticed that
disabled veterans returning home needed a patient, obedient companion to help them cope with
problems that lay before them as they sought to reconstruct their lives. Whether physical or mental,
these problems demanded to be addressed, so that those who had protected our freedom and the
freedom of others could not merely get on with life but take some enjoyment from it. Brooke said that
she had a puppy that had displayed a lot of warmth and caring. When the animal died, its passing gave
her the idea of training dogs for disabled vets.
With the aid of qualified dog trainers, Brooke selected various breeds of dogs from a local animal
rescue shelter to be trained to assist veterans in need. The first step in this process was to examine
the dog in order to ensure that it was not aggressive; the next was to allow the dog become acclimated
to its new surroundings, thus preparing it for training. The third and final step was to make the animal
obedient to the commands of a trainer. Once all of this was accomplished, the dog was ready to be
assigned to a disabled veteran who would benefit from the canine companionship.
I would be remiss if I did not state the cost of training, feeding, and matching these dogs to returning
soldiers. Although “Mutts with a Mission Inc.” is a non-profit organization, not all of the fees are
covered by donations. The fee to apply for a trained animal is $1,000. “What if the veteran cannot
afford the cost?” I asked Brooke. She responded, “We would try to work something out; there are
veteran organizations that are willing to absorb the cost in order to accommodate disabled veterans.”
Our wounded warriors and their families need the help and support of our government, to rebuild their
lives after a job well done.
Who would have thought that man’s best friend could be the answer to man’s, and woman’s,
problems? When God created the dog, maybe He added a little bit of Himself to protect, guide, and
calm the fears of humans in need.
To learn more about this organization, visit their Website.
We were featured on NJ 101.5FM on their, "What's so great about the Garden State?" segment
The write up is featured below.