Northwest Battle Buddies, based in Battle Ground, was founded in 2012 to pair service dogs with veterans who have PTSD, helping them to regain their freedom and independence. Shannon Walker, CEO and founder of Northwest Battle Buddies, discusses how her father inspired the start of the nonprofit and ways readers can contribute to its mission.
What is the mission of Northwest Battle Buddies? Northwest Battle Buddies gifts professionally trained service dogs to veterans battling PTSD, helping them regain their freedom and independence. There is no cure for PTSD, but service dogs can reduce PTSD symptoms with life-changing results. With a canine Battle Buddy by their side, veterans with PTSD can regain their freedom and independence. All our service dogs spend five-plus months in intensive training, then are carefully matched with a veteran handler for five more weeks of training and bonding, creating the ultimate partnership.
What prompted the start of the nonprofit? Growing up, my father, a Korean War veteran, became my earliest and most impactful inspiration as a patriot. He instilled in me the values of God, family and love for our country. He taught me to believe that when you are in the presence of a veteran, you are in the presence of a hero, even though he never considered himself one. This deeply ingrained belief system became the driving force behind Northwest Battle Buddies in 2012. My idea was simple: if I can rescue dogs from shelters, I can train them and then gift them to veterans as a “thank you for my freedom,” making an impactful change in their lives. It’s a true honor to support the incredible men and women who’ve fought for your freedom…my freedom. Where would we be without our freedom and the selfless men and women who provided it, not only to our country but to every American fortunate enough to be born in this amazing nation? Our mission is to serve American veterans by providing them with professionally trained service dogs. Each veteran we help feels the impact of our work: ‘It is our hope that the day before you meet your service dog, it’s your last worst day, and the day you meet your service dog, it’s your best first day.’ That sentence has been proven to be true so far…200-plus times.
What is the greatest reward in being involved with Northwest Battle Buddies? The most rewarding part of being involved with Northwest Battle Buddies is seeing every life changed for the good that we have had the honor of gifting a service dog to. The fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters that are living their life with greater freedom and independence, engaged in the relationships of their beloved families. Bringing value to the lives they love and their communities.
What is the biggest challenge the nonprofit faces? As always, funding is always our biggest challenge.
What are your goals for the new year? To continue our relentless dedication to the mission of NWBB, and to train as many dogs a year as funding will allow, whittling down our year-and-a-half-long waiting list. To perfect our craft and implement best practices in the industry, and be a loud voice for our American heroes. That their need is great and their sacrifice continues for our great nation in the form of the invisible wounds of war that they bear.
How can readers help? Operation Never Quit (ONQ): Every day, veterans with PTSD battle debilitating symptoms and thoughts of ending their own lives. Our service dogs play a crucial role in helping them reclaim freedom and independence. Whether you make a one-time donation or become a part of our monthly giving community, ONQ, you are helping us make a difference in the lives of our American heroes. ONQ is an unwavering monthly commitment to support our American heroes battling PTSD by providing them with professionally trained life-changing service dogs. We stand by them 24/7, and we invite you to stand with us. Our waiting list of veterans continues to grow, and to sustain this vital mission, we need your support. We can’t do this alone.
Puppy Foster Program: Northwest Battle Buddies’ Service Dog Puppy Fosters play a pivotal role in providing essential support, ensuring that every service dog begins its journey in a loving home. Our puppies are raised in approved, safe and loving environments for up to 12 months, contributing to the well-being and companionship of our heroes, making a profound impact on their lives. Every year, we look at matching puppies with a foster family.
Become a Sponsor: By becoming a sponsor or partnering with Northwest Battle Buddies, you can help provide resources and support that will enable us to carry out our mission and make a difference in the lives of our American heroes. Through impactful collaborations with extraordinary partners, Northwest Battle Buddies has achieved significant milestones.
Host a Fundraiser: Work with us to create a custom fundraising page with a private link for your fundraising event, memorial or registry. From 5K races, to partnering with local businesses for donation matching to corporate philanthropic efforts, we make it easy. We manage donations and donor communication, send thank you messages on your behalf, handle transactions and provide you with a list of your donors and total raised amount.
Request a Speaker: Support Northwest Battle Buddies by requesting a speaker or presentation. By sharing compelling stories of resilience, courage and the unwavering bond between veterans and our service dogs, we can educate and inspire audiences to understand and support our veterans battling PTSD. Request a speaker for your event to add a poignant, purpose-driven element that resonates with the spirit of service, sacrifice and triumph.
Our Wish List: Our Amazon Wish List is a great way to help support us and to buy items that we need throughout the year, like crates, leashes, toys, dog beds and grooming tools. You can purchase any of the items as a gift, and it will be delivered directly to us.