Linwood, a non-profit, pairs veterans with service dogs

LINWOOD, Mitch. (WNEM) – Linwood’s non-profit organization aims to help prevent the suicide of veterans.

Mission 22 Service Dogs unite dogs and veterans, eventually helping each other.

“I lost him as a husband, a friend, a father to our son,” said Michelle Leist, founder of Mission 22 Service Dogs.

Michelle Leist then looked for service dogs for veterans, such as her husband.

“His levels of anxiety, his anger, his emotions began to manifest. He was more inclined to talk to me about things instead of slamming doors and going and not knowing where he was going, “Leist said.

After volunteering for another organization, she started her own about a year ago. The name of the non-profit organization is based on twenty-two veterinarians who die from suicide every day.

The Linwood organization teaches veterans how to train dogs to become their own certified service animals.

“The satisfaction you got from just helping these men and women was worth it to me,” Leist said.

Her organization has partnered with about two dozen dogs and veterinarians, such as Jennifer Kolodeisky and Birdie.

“A lot of things she’ll be able to help me do is just keep me, keep me, you know, my levels a little lower,” Kolodzheisky said.

The eight-month-old Labrador helps with hearing loss, rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.

“But I have a feeling that when you have a service animal, you trust that this dog will help you in a certain situation. So I think this connection needs to be much stronger. You have to trust each other, “Kolodeiski said.

The two have been training for about five months and have passed three of the mandatory tests.

Leist ensures that the process is completely free for veterans.

“I’m on a mission, you know, to eliminate those twenty-two a day. I know I can do twenty-two a day, but if I’m helping a veteran, it’s me helping a veteran we won’t lose, “Leist said.

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