It’s an honor to be part of VetDogs program
To the editor:
The inaugural America’s VetDogs Program at Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown that was spearheaded by Lt. Robert L. Shoemaker, Sgt. H.W. Vinson and Correctional Officer II T.L. Fritz, and enthusiastically advocated for Maryland-wide implementation by Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Secretary Gary D. Maynard, was officially launched July 2. This program allows incarcerated inmates the opportunity to train dogs to become service dogs for disabled veterans who bravely served in the United States Armed Forces.
The program began in earnest when four 8-week-old puppies arrived Sept. 19. I was given a black Labrador retriever named Grover to train to become one of these service dogs. As a man who has been incarcerated for many years, nothing I have ever participated in has ever brought so much satisfaction and joy to my life as being part of this extraordinary program.
Knowing that I am training a dog that will be an integral part of a deserving disabled veteran’s life makes me feel honored to have been chosen to participate in a program that will undoubtedly produce significant positive benefits for someone in need. Knowing that I, too, am giving something back to the community is extremely important to me as well.
What better way could there be to honor and support our disabled veterans for their exemplary service and sacrifice to our beloved country than allowing those of us who are incarcerated the opportunity to show our sincere appreciation and compassion to our male and female patriots? As dog handlers training service dogs, we are honored to serve our community in this worthy endeavor.
Donald Hall, No. 150209