Parents, spouses and friends of fallen troops often tell me that their biggest fear is that their loved one will be forgotten. There is something powerful about just saying their names, about just pausing to remember, and they fear people will eventually stop doing that.
One organization that serves veterans and wounded warriors through both training service dogs and placing them in permanent homes remembers service members in a unique way -- by naming puppies after them.
We told you recently about Warrior Canine Connection (WCC). While there are plenty of organizations that work to give dogs to service members as service animals, WCC is unique because they also help veterans dealing with PTSD through the process of puppy training. You can read all about it over here.
But here's where it gets really cool: the puppies are all named after service members through a name nomination process. And while families and friends are welcome to nominate current troops as well, many of them are named in memorium for the fallen.
One such pup is Casey. Named after former Marine and paralympian marathoner and skier Casey Owens, WCC officials took the dog to Casey's internment at Arlington National Cemetery early this year. Casey had committed suicide after a long struggle with PTSD, and a friend had nominated him to have a pup named after him.
"We had his mom and sister ask us to bring the pup down to the internment ceremony," said Rick Youst, WCC’s executive director. "As the family put it, it was very healing and life associated with such a tragedy."
Youst said he has been asked why the organization doesnt offer to name puppies after corporations as a sponsoring gimmick.
"They say 'if you named the dogs after corporations you'd get a lot of donations,'" he said. "But there are things money can't buy, and [naming them after troops] is certainly the right thing to do."
While WCC is glad to see any name nominations, they are particularly in need of female service members to honor, officials said, since about half the puppies are female.
If you are interested in nominating a service member to have a puppy named after him or her, you can go here to the WCC site and fill out the linked form.