GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA-TV) – A Greenville law firm is raising ten thousand dollars to get veterans the service dogs they need, and they need your help!
The Upstate program “Service Dogs for Veterans” pairs the dogs with vets who have PTSD.
Hawkins law firm says they will match your donations dollar for dollar, up to $5,000.
The program has proven itself to be life changing for many local veterans, including Tony Swett.
“We are battle buddies all the way,” said Swett, about him and his service dog, Cooper.
When Tony first came home from war, he knew something was different.
“I didn’t want to go places by myself. [I] didn’t really know why. Just knew that I was uncomfortable,” Swett explained.
Where life on the front lines meant always having someone by his side, home felt isolating. Swett was diagnosed with PTSD.
“I was ashamed of it,” he explained.
A series of chance encounters would lead Swett to Bill Brightman, founder of the “Service Dogs for Veterans” program. It also gave a second chance to the rambunctious dog that belonged to Swett’s new wife.
“It was like a lightbulb went off in me. When Cooper was walking around, I was like “oh, that’s what I was missing.” A companion,” said Swett.
Cooper is Swett’s lifeline to freedom and it’s a similar story with the 20 graduates of the “Service Dogs for Veterans” program, said Brightman.
“The word is getting out as we graduate more veterans. Dogs have a vest with our logo on it. That’s our best advertisement,” said Brightman.
Brightman says Hawkins Law Firm’s pledge is a “miracle.”
“I asked them if they had the right number. I couldn’t believe it, I was so overwhelmed,” said Brightman.
A veteran himself, John Hawkins knew helping this program was a good fit.
“I served in the army for 23 years and this is a very important program,” said Hawkins.
The 10k will go a long way, too. Brightman said it’s enough to fully fund programs for eight veterans and their service dogs.
He said it is eight more chances to change lives, like Tony’s and Cooper’s, for the better.
“God comes first, my family and Cooper is right up in there,” said Swett.
This Saturday, you can meet some of these veterans and their dogs in person. Hawkins law firm will hold the fundraising event at The Outpost Training Center in Greenville (120 Orders St, Greenville, SC 29609) from 10am TO 4pm. There will be free pizza, drinks and games, as well as adoptable dogs.
If you can’t donate in person, you can do so on the Hawkins Law Firm website, HERE.
Learn more about Service Dogs for Veterans HERE.