On a deployment, finding some breath of fresh air is no small thing. Sometimes that comes in the form of making back to the FOB or COP, working out and if you have the facilities, playing a video game or just hanging out with your friends. Sometimes it means getting a few more hours of sleep than you usually get.
And sometimes it comes in the form of the connection built between man and man’s best friend. Soldiers have been bonding with dogs on the battlefield for a very long time, and coming back from a mission or a patrol to see the wagging tail and excited eyes of a dog can be quite moving. They aren’t chasing down the enemy, they don’t sniff out explosives, they serve no military purpose other than morale — and yet they become a crucial part of that deployment.
There’s something about meeting a dog in a place like that. Dogs aren’t like people — no matter where you go, no matter what language the people speak or how badly they want to kill you, dogs remain constant. They just want to play, get scratches, learn some tricks and love the person they’re with. This bond, especially when forged in a place of war, is hard to beat.
Then the deployment ends, and the dog is left behind. The person they have bonded with so deeply has mysteriously vanished, and they are left to scrounge for scraps in an unforgiving place that they do not understand. The soldier may have returned home, but his best friend has been left behind.
There are ways for service members to bring these dogs back to the United States, but it’s a logistical nightmare that requires a long and tedious process of checkups, traveling, vaccinations, more traveling, quarantines — all while the service member is busy trying to get home and see their families once again, on top of all of the practical, military logistics of exiting a deployment. Above all, it just takes a whole lot of money to bring these dogs home, and it’s money that a lot of these guys don’t have. It’s just not feasible for many.
This is where No Dog Gets Left Behind (NDGLB) comes in. NDGLB is a Philadelphia based, all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization that raises money to facilitate bringing these dogs back where they belong — into the family of the service member who they bonded with. Under the leadership of Trish Gohl, NDGLB financially supports the organizations that handle the complicated logistics of getting these dogs out of the war zone.
As an example: No Dog Gets Left Behind recently threw its annual Spring Fling fundraising event to raise money to reunite Kalb and his human, Spc. Jeremy Blevins (pictured below). The event was a huge success, and Kalb is already back in the U.S. from Syria, awaiting Jeremy’s return.
Check out the long list of dogs they have been instrumental in reuniting with their service members here. To date, NDGLB has reunited nearly 60 dogs with their soldiers.
NDGLB’s mission extends beyond just reuniting dogs with their soldiers. Under its “Save a Dog, Save a Veteran” program, NDGLB will pay to provide therapy-trained rescue dogs to veterans suffering from PTSD. In 2016, No Dog Gets Left Behind introduced its “Strays for Soldiers” program, paying the adoption fees for qualifying veterans to rescue dogs from participating shelters.
At the end of the day, this group cares about nurturing the bond between the service member and the dog, in any way it can. Dogs can be incredible sources of healing from the stress and hardships associated with deployments, and having one, taking care of it, being responsible for it, and loving it and it loving you — it can make all the difference.
On October 26, 2018, No Dog Gets Left Behind is hosting another event called the “Fall Ball,” featuring a meet and greet with Kris “Tanto” Paronto, former U.S. Army Ranger, survivor of the 9/11/12 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi and co-author of the N.Y. Times Bestseller “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi.” Our friends over at Cuna are proud supporters of this event, and tickets are selling quickly!
All photos provided by No Dog Gets Left Behind.