Project HEAL© is a program offered by ECAD.
The program honors and empowers Wounded Warriors by providing specially trained Service Dogs to increase independence and make a difference in their lives.
Our Project HEAL© Service Dogs are individually trained by at-risk teens in our ECADemy© program. These specially trained dogs pick up dropped objects, open and close doors, open refrigerators, pull wheelchairs, prevent overcrowding in public, interrupt nightmares and flashbacks, remind to take meds, warn of approaching strangers and reduce anxiety and stress, all the while providing unconditional love and comfort.
ECAD does not charge our Wounded Warriors for these very special Service Dogs. Each veteran is provided with 13 days of Team Training instruction in our Dobbs Ferry, NY facility. Housing is provided at no cost. Veterans must pay for their own transportation to our facility as well as meals and activity costs during Team Training.
Through our visits to West Point and the Bronx VA Hospital we've become more aware of veterans' needs and expanded on our knowledge of how a Service Dog can help a veteran. ECAD's Therapy Dog, Blip, has been participating in TBI groups at the VA hospital. We've also invited veterans to come to Childrens Village to act as mentors to the boys and participate in Service Dog training classes.
Here are some of the things our veterans and their families are saying about their Service Dogs:
"Tuesday has significantly changed the quality of my life. He reminds me to take many medications throughout the day at their proper intervals. He helps me to overcome social agoraphobia (fear of the onset of a panic attack and appearing distraught in public), hyper-vigilance and flashbacks that previously left me reclusive much of the time. His constant presence enables me to be more of who I used to be - a confident, vibrant and fun-loving person."
"Before Raeburn's arrival, I had the daily tasks of putting on and removing my husband Rick's socks, shoes and brace. I picked up anything he dropped on the floor, made sure he took his medication, and even helped him in and out of bed on bad days. Now that Raeburn is part of our family, these tasks and many others have changed from my hand to his loving paws. Raeburn is simply amazing! He opens and closes doors and can retrieve anything you ask him to. When the alarm goes off he even retrieves and delivers Rick's medications. Of equal importance is the psychological impact Raeburn has had on Rick. He wakes Rick every morning with big kisses, which puts a smile on his face at the start of our days. He is such an amazing and loving dog."
"My Service Dog won't let me 'veg out' on the couch or stay in bed all day. She brings a toy and insists I play with her and every time I reach for her, she jumps away. She is relentless in her efforts to get me up, moving and out of the house! She has helped me get some of my life back."
"I can't thank you enough for what this Service Dog is doing for our family. My husband and I have gone more places in the last 6 days then we did in the past 6 months! Because his Service Dog is with him, he is much calmer in public and can even deal with the darkened movie theaters."
"I thought I heard a battalion of enemy soldiers marching down the hall. When I saw my Service Dog curled at my feet fast asleep, I knew it wasn't real. I was able to focus and calm down in much less time than before I had this wonderful dog."
"I had a flash back while driving and sped up to try to run, what I thought was an enemy vehicle, off the road. My Service Dog jumped up on the front seat and nudged me with his head and paws. I snapped back to reality, pulled off the road and avoided what would have been a serious accident."
Read what our founder says about Project HEAL©:
"Being the founder of East Coast Assistance Dogs has given me many opportunities to give back. Project HEAL© is ECAD's way of giving back to our soldiers and Marines, who have risked so much for our safety and freedom. ECAD Service Dogs are custom trained to support these veterans physically as well as emotionally. We are proud to be able to help our Wounded Warriors." Lu Picard, Executive Director and Founder, East Coast Assistance Dogs.