How to help Michigan veterans, first responders get service dogs

A nonprofit that pairs service dogs with veterans and first responders needs help with its mission. 

"That same day I felt a renewed sense of being. I felt completely restored at this point," said Matthew McMurray, describing the day he received his blue German shepherd from Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs four years ago. "They help stop nightmares, night terrors."

The Florida-based Guardian Angels helps vets around the country get service dogs, including here in Michigan.

"We have to help our veterans and first responders who have given so much to our country and communities, and their lives are changed in ways that aren't always positive," said Mary Lamparter, the regional coordinator for Guardian Angels in Michigan."

Evidence shows that compared to drugs and therapy veterans often show lower PTSD symptomology when they have a service dog.

"We've often heard the statistic of 22 veterans per day take their lives, so at Guardian Angels, we like to base our success rate on the fact that we've been around for 12 years, we've paired hundreds of dogs across the United States and haven't had a single suicide," said Nancy Dakin, a trainer with the nonprofit.

Service dogs are trained for 18 months to 2 years, and the cost to train each dog, pair them with a person, and provide follow-ups is about $37,000.

The National Guard Association of Michigan is hoping to raise $1.4 million to get 54 service dogs by 2024. The money will cover the cost to train and place one service dog with one veteran in 54 U.S. states and territories. 

Celebrate Michigan's Military annual fundraiser is hoping to raise funds for at least 10 dogs.

Tickets are still available for the fundraiser at 6 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Andiamo Banquet Center in Warren. 

Get tickets or make a donation here.


If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255. Or text to 741-741

CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support.