The AHEPAN Fall 2022 - 26

VETERANS
Service Dogs for Warriors Chairman Reflects on the
Importance, Growth of the Program
ASDW Chair George Karatzia, PSG
In 1966, I was a combat infantry soldier in Viet Nam. It didn't
take long for me to realize that life as I knew it would never be
the same. Heavy casualties on both sides were unimaginable. I
felt I lost my innocence in a world gone mad. You see, what you
learn is nothing really prepares you for war, and even worse,
nothing really prepares you for how to become a civilian again.
Returning home, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD), having bouts with anxiety, depression, and
nightmares. I was fortunate to find a
group for veterans called Operation
Landing Zone. I felt the trust and their
support proved to help me get off the
meds and help me get my life back
again. In 2013, I started to learn about
service dogs and how they help mitigate
the problems of veterans struggling
with PTSD.
At my Disabled American Veterans
meeting, we had two of our members
who each received their service dogs.
Previously, they were considered
short-tempered hot heads. In a year's
time, a noticeable change in their
behavior for the better had occurred. At
one of our monthly meetings, I sat next
to one of the veterans and his service
dog, " Houdini, " laid down on my feet.
The veteran leaned over and asked if I
had a bad day today.
" Yes, " I replied, as nothing went
right.
" Notice that Houdini was sitting on your feet, and he felt
your triggers and is letting you know that he's here for you, " he
pointed out.
That's the moment I became a believer in service dogs.
A study conducted at Purdue University was commissioned
with the goal to verify scientifically that service dogs are an
effective treatment with veterans with PTSD. The study was one
of the first to define the biobehavioral effects on veterans. How
serious is the effect of PTSD to our veterans? From the 20-year
26 | THE AHEPAN ยท Fall 2022
period from 1957 to 1975 of the Viet Nam War, 58,220 American
heroes were killed. To contrast, over the study's 10-year period,
more than 80,000 veterans died by suicide, demonstrating the
devastating effect of PTSD on veterans.
In 2016, I believed AHEPA could be a part of the solution
with the creation of the AHEPA Service Dog for Warrior program.
The program's purpose would be to raise money to
sponsor service dogs for veterans, at no cost to them. Standing
before National Projects Committee
Chairman Brother Harry Cavalaris
at the Supreme Convention, and the
committee, I answered good and
hard questions from a bright group
of Ahepans. Founders of the K9 for
Warriors organization, Mr. and Mrs.
Zelinski, accompanied me to help
answer technical questions about how
service dogs help veterans get their
lives back. After addressing the committee's
concerns, Chairman Cavalaris
stated both veterans and AHEPA need
this program because it is a " good red,
white and blue program. " The Supreme
Convention delegates approved the
program unanimously.
At this year's Supreme Convention we
celebrated AHEPA's 100th Anniversary.
I am proud that in six years working
with the AHEPA family, we have raised
awareness about the horrible effects
and tragedies caused by PTSD. We are
also proud the AHEPA Service Dogs for Warriors program will
reach the $1 million mark with expenses less than one percent,
practically zero. Together, we can take pride in the realization
that we will help 100 veterans who struggle with PTSD by bringing
the aid of a service dog into their lives.
In my mind, I can see AHEPA's founders looking down upon
us and saying how proud they are of the Order of AHEPA for
their many contributions to America in the past 100 years.
God bless our veterans.
www.ahepa.org
http://www.ahepa.org

The AHEPAN Fall 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The AHEPAN Fall 2022

The AHEPAN Fall 2022 - Intro
The AHEPAN Fall 2022 - 1
The AHEPAN Fall 2022 - 2
The AHEPAN Fall 2022 - 3
The AHEPAN Fall 2022 - 4
The AHEPAN Fall 2022 - 5
The AHEPAN Fall 2022 - 6
The AHEPAN Fall 2022 - 7
The AHEPAN Fall 2022 - 8
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