'Boots and Paws' - Dogs give new purpose to struggling veterans, first responders

The program is geared towards helping first responders, active military and veterans address mental health concerns.

News 12 Staff

Dec 19, 2021, 9:29 PM

Updated 941 days ago

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Mental health issues frequently appear when members of the armed forces make the transition from military life to civilian life. One group is helping - one puppy at a time. 
Retired Green Beret Spencer Lake has served 14 years in the Army. He did multiple tours in Afghanistan and retired two years ago. 
“That transition is really difficult,” says Lake.  “The transition from something you’re proud of and you feel a part of something - to something no one really understands, so you isolate yourself.” 
Lake has been honored with some of the military’s most distinguished awards. On Sunday, he gets a puppy from Putnam County’s nonprofit Guardian Revival’s new Boots and Paws program. 
The program is geared towards helping first responders, active military and veterans address mental health concerns.
Puppies are given for free with a care package that includes a year of paid essentials like veterinarian fees, pet insurance and dog food. 
Those involved in the Boots and Paws program says each candidate goes through a screening to ensure the puppies are going to a good home.  
Many of those involved are military veterans themselves. They understand how important this mission is. They say more veterans die by suicide than in the line of duty. 
Since the program’s inception in 2019, they have given out 10 dogs. 


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