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JWL donates to Healing Heroes campaign

June 21, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

On July 13, a delegation from the Canfield Junior Women's League (JWL) traveled to the Armstrong facility in North Lima to donate a $1,000 check that will go towards providing a canine companion for a veteran. Also in attendance were representatives from Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Inc.

"The donation comes from our fund-raising events throughout the year including our Fall Market on the Green," said Tina Marie Gasior, president of the Canfield JWL.

The donation went to Armstrong's Healing Heroes program which is a partnership between Guardian Angels Medical Dogs and Armstrong. The program provides dogs to veterans who are struggling with disabilities, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The partnership goals are to raise funds for the dogs and raise awareness about veterans' needs.

Article Photos

Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Present at the Armstrong Healing Heroes big donation on July 13 were, in front row: Canfield Junior Women's League members Mary Witkowski, Sherree Zamary, Karen Marcu, and Tina Marie Gasior, recipient Leon Heaton and his wife Michelle 'Mickey' Heaton with the canine companion Carson, Armstrong Community Marketing Manager Megan Ellashek, and Armstrong employees Sherry Matey, Michel Cohn, and Susan Luce. In back are Canfield JWL members Dana Heid, Marsha Grossman, Carla Elenz, Renee Benson, Guardian Angels Regional Development Director Jack Wagner, and Boardman Armstrong General Manager Dan McGahagan. The JWL donated $1,000 towards the program that trains dogs to be companions for veterans.

Each dog costs about $22,000 to raise and train. Jack Wagner from Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs Inc. said the training is a long period of time.

"It takes one to one-and-a-half years to train a dog, from birth," he said. "Each dog then goes to a foster home to get acquainted to family life, then the veteran paired with the dog spends 11 days of training prior to going home."

Wagner said his organization trains up to 80 dogs at a time. The training facility is in Williston, Fla., but the organization is building a training facility near Pittsburgh to handle training for the northeastern states.

Megan Ellashek, community marketing manager for Armstrong in North Lima said the Armstrong systems in America are very supportive of the veterans' canine program.

"So far, Armstrong has paid for 10 dogs, and two have been placed," she said.

One dog went to a veteran in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania. The other one went to Leon Heaton from Valley City, Ohio, who was able to attend last week's donation event. He brought his partner Carson, with him.

Heaton served with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970. He returned to the states and suffers from PTSD. It brought on episodes of anxious moments and lack of sleep.

"Carson now alerts me before I get an episode," Heaton said. "When he senses an episode, he comes over and licks me and stays beside me until the anxiety has gone."

He said the dog has also helped him sleep at night. Before, he barely got one full nights sleep without waking several times. Now with Carson around, he can finally get a full night's sleep.

"I've had Carson for eight months and he has made a big difference in my life," Heaton said. "It is like night and day when compared to the past."

Ellashek said the goal is to help more veterans like Heaton. Through the Armstrong program, the money is raised, and the veterans are sought out. She said local organizations like the Austintown and Boardman Rotaries and the Canfield Junior Women's League has been very supportive in helping with donations for the dogs.

She said the search is on now for veterans who need a canine companion. Anyone who knows a veteran that could use the services of a Guardian Angels Medical Service Dog canine can visit armstrongonewire.com and search for Healing Heroes, or contact Sam Pietrangelo at spietrangelo@agoc.com or call 330-722-3141 ext:228. Donations towards the dogs can be made at www.medicalservicedogs.org.

 
 

 

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