The 2023-2024 Commander's Project will include two programs in order to provide the most effective means to serve our Veterans in need within the State of New Jersey. This year's project will be split evenly between Paws Healing Heroes and The NJVFW Veterans Assistance Program (VAP).
New Jersey Veterans Assistance Program
The NJVFW Veterans Assistance Program (VAP). The VAP was included in this year’s Commander’s Project to ensure the Department of NJ VFW sustains this important program to serve Veterans in the future. The VAP was initially established in 2017-2018 and has been integral to Veterans in need since its implementation. This program has improved the lives of hundreds of veterans and their families. It has kept a roof over their heads and food on the table keeping them safe and out of crisis.
Paws Healing Heroes
The Paws Healing Heroes program was established by Glassboro, New Jersey native, Mark Eberle. Mark is an Army Veteran.
Mark's mission is to raise money, through community events, in order to provide service dogs to Veterans in need. These service dogs are primarily found in rescue shelters. "My hope is to rescue dogs that need forever homes and have them determined eligible to enter a training program. The training program enables them to be certified to work with Veterans depending on the needs they have. Knowing that I am able to help and give back to fellow Veterans helps me as much as the dog and the Veteran in need" said Eberle.
The results of the Paws Healing Heroes program have proven to be successful. We've seen immediate changes in the Veterans to whom we have given back. Their demeanor and ability to focus on allowing the dog to do his/her job has made them feel more comfortable with their day-to-day lifestyle. The average cost to rescue, train and present a service dog to a Veteran is $4,000 - $11,000. To date Paws Healing Heroes have paired 75 dogs with disabled Veterans. They have 4 more service dogs graduating on June 29th with 7 more service dogs in training or starting training.
Paws Healing Heroes works closely with Alpha and Omega Working Dogs in Moorestown New Jersey to train all of their service dogs. Alpha and Omega founder Sergeant Ray Harris is an 8-year Veteran with the Delaware State Department of Corrections. His career in law enforcement regularly exposed him to working dogs, and he discovered a passion for breeding, training, and competing. He is a member of Shutzhund USA, the premier club for German shepherd trainers, as well as The National Working Dog Association.
Competitions: Ray has been competing since 2005 and has won awards in K9 sports up and down the east coast. In 2015, he became a certified decoy for Schutzhund, allowing him to decoy for club trials across the USA. He has performed in that capacity in seven states and counting.
Police Dogs: As of 2017, Ray has also expanded into developing Police K-9 units with several local Law Enforcement entities. He became a member of the USPCA to help police working dogs certify and compete in K-9 trials regionally.
Other Work: Alpha & Omega Working Dogs also trains non-working dogs. See our Services section for more details on our obedience, behavior modification, boarding, service and therapy training programs.
Keep Moving Forward: In the future, Ray intends to represent the United States in working dog competitions internationally, to further develop and refine his work with K-9, and to expand into other working dog areas. To that end, Alpha & Omega staff are all involved in ongoing education and training programs to better serve our furry friends and their humans.
Service Dogs: Alpha & Omega trains PTS/PTSD service dogs for veterans, first responders, and anyone who has undergone trauma.
Please see the impact that our service dogs have on our Veterans at pawshealingheroes.org
Paws Healing Heroes is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization EIN #85-0492061.
Mail all donations to: NJ VFW 171 Jersey Street Bldg. 5 Flr. 2 Trenton NJ 08611