JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — K9s For Warriors, whose mission is to serve disabled veterans, held an unveiling ceremony Monday revealing the new name of the organization’s main campus.
In a ceremony, a new sign was revealed reading “The Shari Duval K9s For Warriors National Headquarters” replacing the old campus name “Camp K9” as the official title of the organization’s main campus.
Staff, volunteers, and dogs gathered out front to celebrate Shari Duval, the woman they call Mom.
“Our team mission is the warriors," Duval said. "Simple. Pure. Nothing else.”
Shari Duval founded K9s For Warriors in 2011 to provide service canines to veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma as a result of post-9/11 service. Shari was inspired to start the organization by her son, Brett Simon, a contractor who returned from two tours in Iraq suffering from severe post-traumatic stress.
“Without her inspiration and commitment none of this would have been possible," said Rory Diamond, CEO of K9s For Warriors. "Her commitment to our veteran population paired with her understanding of the healing power of the companionship and love of a dog laid the foundation of what is now the nation's largest provider of Service Dogs for disabled American veterans..."
The new sign reading “The Shari Duval K9s For Warriors National Headquarters” will greet all visitors as they arrive at the K9s For Warriors main campus.
"I got to thinking at Christmas what a blessed day I’ve had. My family made it so beautiful. Just an absolute perfect day," Duval described. "I got to thinking what about the warriors sitting home alone suffering and thinking nobody loves them, and nobody wants to be around them, and they have nothing to live for. How many of these dogs have saved their lives during Christmas? During a hard time?"
Judge Ron Swanson called her a visionary at the renaming ceremony.
“She saw this before any of the rest of us did," Swanson said. "She saw what we needed to do and could do for those who were damaged in service to us
Thanks to the generosity of people like you across the First Coast, First Coast News helped to raise more than $500,000 to help K9s For Warriors this Veterans Day.
The money was raised to help the organization provide service canines to veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and/or Military Sexual Trauma as a result of military service.
K9s for Warriors website says they've helped 653 warriors graduate from the program with a service dog and they've helped rescue about 1,000 dogs. You can read more about the organization here.