Armstrong Marks Anniversary of Healing Heroes Program

BUTLER, Pa. – As the anniversary of the launch of its Healing Heroes program approaches, Armstrong has announced that the first two pairings of veterans and service dogs have been made at Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs in Williston, Fla.

The fundraising campaign supports training service dogs – which takes upward of 18 months and around $22,000 per dog – and matching them with veterans from Armstrong’s service area. The initial goal was to raise enough to fund the training of five dogs, with money raised through Armstrong’s Facebook page, community events and through Guardian Angels’ website,

“Although we had high hopes for a successful program, we could not have anticipated quite how successful the program turned out to be,” said Armstrong President Jeff A. Ross in a release. “With the incredible help of our communities and employees, we raised enough to donate eight service dogs; and we are currently working on number nine.”

The program began on Veterans Day last year.

In addition to matching veterans and service dogs, the Healing Heroes program also focused on raising awareness of veterans’ needs, including treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. On averaged, 22 veterans with either condition commit suicide every day.

The service dogs are trained in basic manners and skills, including opening doors and turning on lights, as well as more advanced things like detecting blood sugar levels and nightmares related to PTSD. The dogs are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and treated as “medical equipment with a heartbeat,” Guardian Angels founder Carol Borden told The Business Journal in February.

In the seven years since she founded the organization, no veterans who have been matched with a service dog have committed suicide.

Read More: Armstrong Helps Guardian Angels Pair Vets with Dogs

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