Service dogs have special legal protection. One can go anywhere its owner goes, fly free on airplanes and live in all housing, regardless of pet policy.
The special animals protect and serve people with disabilities, but fake service dogs are on the rise, and for selfish reasons.
"It's a huge issue," Smoky Mountain Service Dogs Chairman Mike Kitchens said. "People just go on the Internet, buy a vest and slap it on their dog just because they want to go to the grocery store with their dog."
Popular auction websites make it easy to buy a vest and service dog certificates. However, normal pet canines receive significantly less training and financial input than trained ones, such as Vanner, who lives at the Smoky Mountain Service Dogs facility in Lenoir City, Tennessee.
"It's disheartening to those of us that do it appropriately," Kitchens said. "A dog like Vanner is trained for two years, about 15 to 1,800 hours, and it's about a $20,000 dog."
Passing off a dog as a trained service is illegal. It can also be very expensive if the dog hurts someone because the owner is always liable.
"If your animal actually bites someone while that animal is supposed to be under your control, then you would be exposed to liability, and I think that liability would be increased if you represented your animal as a quote-on-quote service dog," Attorney T. Scott Jones said.
The law protects service dog owners from being asked too many questions. Dog trainers say the best way to stop the spread of fakes is personal honesty.
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Nine questions most civilians are thinking about, but are too scared to say out loud. When a civilian like me starts asking a veteran certain questions, things can get awkward, fast. The reality is, though, that even if we have enough tact not to ask, we’re still going to wonder. Let’s face it; in many ways, veterans and civilians are from different planets. Still, this doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to speak each other’s language, appreciate each other’s culture, and even inhabit one another’s worlds. Here’s what your civilian friends are really wondering about you and what they really mean when some of these uncomfortable questions inevitably slip out.
1. Did you see some really messed up stuff over there?
Crude and insensitive, this question covers all the negative bases. Though we all try to be tactful — and we all know what morbid curiosity feels like — this question is the one that slips out when that curiosity gets the best of us. We’ll probably never actually ask you this, but what we are wondering is if the things we learned about war from the media and movies are actually accurate.
2. Did you ever kill anybody?
Let’s just get this one out of the way. Hopefully, none of us will ever ask you this question, as it’s a sensitive subject and obviously none of our business. Still, if it does end up slipping out, please go easy on us. We’re still trying to wrap our heads around the concept of killing as a necessary evil that’s actually permitted in war at our government’s behest — something that is probably only possible to really understand when you’ve faced a grave threat to your own life and stared down the barrel of someone else’s gun. We ask ourselves if we’d have the courage to do the same — a question that bears no moral judgement on you, but rather whether or not we would ultimately ever have the guts to pull the trigger too.
3. What the heck did you actually do in the military, anyway?
Unless we are military brats ourselves, most civilians sadly have no clue how the U.S. military works. You’re going to need to spell it out for us — don’t tell us that you were a “door gunner” and expect us to get it; say “I shot guns at bad guys from a helicopter.” If you were a cook or worked a desk job, we want to know that too, because we care about you. We understand that every role in the military is essential and requires courage and self-sacrifice, not just the “sexy” jobs.
4. Can I say, “Thank you for your service?”
Many of us were brought up to believe that this is the right thing to do, and when we say it, we sincerely mean it. When facing an active-duty or veteran service member, most of us are keenly aware of the fact that you’re the one who had the balls to serve — not us — and we truly are grateful for it. At the same time, we know that there’s been backlash from some service members who feel that this statement is either inappropriate or insufficient, so we’re often not sure whether or not to say it or keep quiet.
5. Are you suffering, and if so, can I help?
We’re all aware of the prevalence of post-traumatic stress and the pressing issue of the veteran-suicide rate, we also don’t want to force any assumptions on you by asking how you’re doing, especially if the answer is “Just fine, thank you.” All we really want you to know is that we’re eager to be there for you, help you, support you, and listen to you without judgement. We just want to be there for you if you need us, no matter how much we trip over our words when offering our support.
6. Are you still the same person that you were before you went to war?
Maybe we knew each other back in high school, before we both went our separate ways and you enlisted. Reconnecting after following such divergent paths, we may need your reassurance that you’re still the same person that you were before, and if you’re not, we need to know how you’ve changed, so that our friendship can evolve into new and authentic patterns of interaction.
7. Can you only really relate to other veterans now?
We admire and respect you, which is why we want to be your friend. We’re also keenly aware that there’s a huge part of your life that we can never fully understand unless you choose to share it with us. We can’t help but wonder if this means that you’d just rather be friends with other vets (though we hope that’s not the case).
8. What was it really like “over there?”
Everyone knows that there is no real substitute for actual experience. Each news outlet has its own bias, and Hollywood’s representations of warzones are for the most part a lost cause. For many of us, while we might be able to ask an uncle about Vietnam or a grandparent about World War II, having the chance to ask a member of our own generation about the realities of war is a rarity. While we might be hesitant to ask, we’re intensely curious about everything from where you slept and what you ate to what it feels like to lose a friend on the battlefield.
9. What do you think about this politician/conflict/issue?
I know that it probably gets exhausting when everyone expects you to have the definitive opinion on every issue that makes the headlines. But just recognize that in many ways, your wisdom and experience are the closest that most of us will ever come to understanding what it would actually feel like to be one of the proverbial “boots on the ground.” If you don’t have an opinion, that’s okay too.
Of course, let’s not be naive: Some people really are just ignorant jerks who ask obnoxious questions and assume the worst of you. Your true friends are none of the above, but they still might wonder some of the same things. The bottom line is that your true friends love you, and whatever awkward thing that they say or ask, know that it’s coming from a place of good intentions. A little bit of mutual understanding here goes a long way, and you’ll both grow wiser and more compassionate in the process.
SALUTE OUR HEROES FESTIVAL is on a mission to be one of the largest celebration of service in our country. Organized by the Military Veteran Project, it carries on the traditions of honoring the service and sacrifice of veterans , offering the public the opportunity to show their support for those who serve on our nation's most visible stage in the State Capitol of Kansas, Topeka.
Learn how you or your group can join us in festivities by registering to participate in Topeka Veterans Parade or as a vendor for Salute Our Heroes Festival
Sponsor packages and donation information MORE >>Join OUR team! Individuals and Groups Welcome! MORE >>
Salute Our Heroes Festival & Topeka Veterans Parade is a program organized by the Military Veteran Project a non-profit organization dedicated to prevention of military suicide. The Festival & Parade assist with mobilizing public support for our veterans, connecting our veterans with resources, and assisting organizations serving our veterans.
Military Veteran Project is very honored to announce today the partnership with Azura Credit Union's Community Impact Card Program. MVP was selected by Azura to receive proceeds from their community impact card. When an Azura customer initiates the program the pay a one time $2 fee and then five cents for every purchase (debit or credit) for the next year.
Military Veteran Project volunteers are appreciative to add the support of Azura in our ongoing efforts and look to potential development of programs as we continue with our mission. Military Veteran Project Founder Melissa Jarboe shared her emotional thoughts "The Military Veteran Project looks forward to a continued successful partnership with Azura and know thats that the investment made by our volunteers and members will help continue our mission of Military Suicide Prevention through research and alternative treatments. Community partners and businesses like Azura help connect philatnrophy efforts and make it possible for our community to work together for the greater good and from all of us here at the Military Veteran Project we are thankful for this great opportunity."
TOPEKA- Azura Credit Union announced five additional charities of choice joining the Azura Community Impact Debit Card program on Wednesday January 18th at 10 A.M. at their 1129 S. Kansas Avenue location. The program will now include a total of seven participating charitable organizations. In addition, to announcing the 2017 additions Azura presented funds to TARC and Topeka Rescue Mission for their proceeds from participating in the Community Impact Debit Card program in 2016.
Representatives from all seven of the charities of choice were present:
TARC, current and continuing charity of choice, www.tarcinc.org
Topeka Rescue Mission, current and continuing charity of choice, www.trmonline.org
Boys and Girls Club of Topeka www.bgctopeka.org
Harvesters – The Community Food Network www.harvesters.org
MVP, Military Veteran Project www.militaryveteranproject.org
Supporting Kids Foundation www.supportingkids.org
Topeka Community Cycle Project www.cycleproject.org
As a charity of choice in the Community Impact Debit Card program, when Azura members choose to participate they will select from one of these seven charitable organizations. Members will receive their special Community Impact Debit Card for a one time $2 charge. As members use the card to make purchases, Azura Credit Union will donate five cents to the organization the member selected. The organizations were selected through a committee process and align with one of Azura’s areas of focus: education, quality of life & fundamental needs, health & wellness, and community revitalization.
TARC and Topeka Rescue Mission participated in a check presentation and announcement of the 2016 results of their participation in the Community Impact Debit Card program. The Community Impact Debit Card program was able to raise $30,774.10 for TARC in 2016 and Topeka Rescue Mission received $10,211.10.
“We are beyond thankful for our members who choose to participate in Azura’s Community Impact Debit Card program. This program is a an excellent example of the impact we can make in the community when we all work together. One swipe at a time, we were able to accumulate and give $40,000 in 2016. We are excited to see the possibilities, growth and impact this program can have for our existing and new additions in 2017.” said Jennifer Kirmse VP of Business Development at Azura Credit Union.
If you want to learn more about the Community Impact Card contact Azura Credit Union by clicking HERE
Redeem American Express Points, Make a Charitable Donation for Military Suicide PreventionIf you are an American Express® cardmember enrolled in the Membership Rewards® program and you have Membership Rewards points available, you can redeem them and in return make a donation to Military Veteran Project in 1,000-point increments.
For every 1,000 points redeemed from your Membership Rewards account, American Express will donate $5 to Military Veteran Project.
Redeeming Membership Rewards points for donations to Military Veteran Project is very easy. Just visit the Membership Rewards website at http://amex.justgive.org/nonprofits/donate.jsp?ein=46-0877378 or call 1-800-AXP-EARN (297-3276). On behalf of all the veterans that may benefit from your gift, thank you!
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Please note: American Express will deduct a transaction fee of 2.25% from the donation to cover processing costs. The charities will receive your donation amount, minus the 2.25% American Express processing fee, from our partner JustGive. This transaction fee is similar to or less than the processing fee the charity would pay if you were to charge your donation with your American Express Card through any other means (i.e., over the phone to the charity, through the charity's website, etc.). This transaction fee applies only to monetary donations placed on your American Express Card and not to donations that are made via the redemption of Membership Rewards points. The full amount of your dollar donation, including the amount of the transaction fee, is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Please consult your tax advisor on the deductibility of a donation of Membership Rewards points.
Topeka Veterans Parade Grand Marshal 2014
Brigadier General Deborah S. Rose, USAF, Retired will join us this Saturday November 5, 2016 at the Salute our Heroes Festival of Topeka & Topeka Veterans Parade 2016!
General Rose entered military service with a direct commission into the Nurse Corps in March 1983, where she remained until 1994 when the wing leadership requested she leave the Nurse Corps to take on a crucial leadership role.During Desert Shield, she deployed to Saudi Arabia where she served as a nurse. Pre-Operation Iraqi Freedom, she deployed to Turkey as the leader of an aerial refueling base bed-down team. She became the highest-ranking female in the Kansas National Guard when she was promoted to the rank of colonel in 2002, and upon her promotion to brigadier general in 2007 was also the first female to achieve that rank in the Kansas National Guard.
"Before we start our wedding ceremony we wanted to take a moment and thank a very special member of our family. You may have noticed the beautiful young lady that walked down here with our little jellybean. This isn't because she asked first or we didn't know who else should carry her down the aisle. Melissa and the sacrifices of herself and her late husband SSG Jamie jarboe are the very reason we are here today.
Some of you know her and know her story but for those of you who don't, Jamie was shot in the neck by a sniper in Afghanistan at the very same fob that myself and some of you called home. He fought for his life for nearly year before taking his last breath. One of his dying wishes was that Melissa take care of his brothers and sisters in arms. Melissa spent the next few years of her life creating the Military Veteran Project, she did anything and everything she could to help soldiers and their families with any issues they were having. She helped Allie and her then husband with his ptsd and anger issues as well as provide her the resources necessary to help keep herself and her children safe from him after he tried to take her life. Melissa also helped me straighten out my medical care and any issues I was having. If it weren't for these two amazingly selfless people, Allie and I would have never met and we all would not be standing or sitting here today. So we thought it was only appropriate that Melissa carried down the life that was created from the loss of her husbands life and to know that he did not fight and die in vain and that their sacrifices will never be forgotten. His memory will live on in the most beautiful way possible. Another life. Thank you Melissa for everything you've done, not only for us but for all our brothers and sisters. At this time I ask that we all take a moment of silence to thank SSG Jamie jarboe for the sacrifices he made for his country and family." -Zac Gore
The Pentagon reported in May that 265 active-duty servicemembers killed themselves last year, continuing a trend of unusually high suicide rates that have plagued the U.S. military for at least seven years.
The number of suicides among troops was 145 in 2001 and began a steady increase until more than doubling to 321 in 2012, the worst year in recent history for servicemembers killing themselves.
The suicide rate for the Army that year was nearly 30 suicides per 100,000 soldiers, well above the national rate of 12.5 per 100,000 for 2012.
Military suicides dropped 20% the year after that, and then held roughly steady at numbers significantly higher than during the early 2000s. The 265 suicides last year compares with 273 in 2014 and 254 in 2013. By contrast, from 2001 through 2007, suicides never exceeded 197.
"Suicide prevention remains a top priority, and the Department will continue its efforts to reduce deaths by suicide among its servicemembers," said Marine Lt. Col. Hermes Gabrielle, a Pentagon spokeswoman. "Reducing suicide risk entails creating a climate that encourages servicemembers to seek help, reducing access to lethal means and broadening communication and awareness to servicemembers and their families."
Among efforts by the military to combat suicide was a $50 million, long-term study by the Army that eventually produced algorithms for predicting what group of soldiers is most likely to commit suicide. The Department of Veterans Affairs has embraced the science and will soon launch a pilot program for helping its therapists concentrate efforts on those veterans with strong self-destructive tendencies.
The increase in suicide in the military was driven largely by the Army, where suicides rose sharply from 45 in 2001 to 165 in 2012. The Army reported 120 suicides last year, the same as in 2013 and down from 124 in 2014.
Data released Friday also show that suicides among reserve troops — reservists in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps and the National Guard — were 210 last year. That is an increase from 170 suicides in 2014 but down from 220 suicides in 2013.
Melissa Jarboe, Founder of the Military Veteran Project creates Military Relations Council for Topeka Chamber of Commerce
Jarboe is on a mission to prevent military suicide with Military Veteran Project
Melissa Jarboe, founder of the Military Veteran Project, has a mentorship relationship with retired U.S. Sen. Bob Dole and influential military leaders such as Lieutenant General William C. Mayville Jr., director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, refers to her “as a force to be reckoned with.” Whether she’s pulling up a chair at a Pentagon meeting or at the bedside of a wounded soldier in a Veterans Administration Hospital, Jarboe is fully present in fulfilling the pledge she made to her dying husband to care for his fellow service members.
Army Staff Sergeant Jamie Jarboe was shot by a sniper in Afghanistan in 2011, an injury that left him paralyzed from the chest down. He eventually succumbed to injuries caused by a surgical procedure that collapsed his trachea. Knowing that he was terminal, he told Jarboe that he was going to use the rest of his life to help Jarboe plan the rest of hers. Following 11 excruciating days in which he slowly suffocated, Jamie died a month shy of his 29th birthday.
“He didn’t want me to return to my corporate executive position and instead wanted me to work to ensure that our military men and women know that they have our support,” Jarboe said.
Having dealt with seven hospitals, including Walter Reed and Johns Hopkins, the Jarboes had become all too familiar with the daunting issues confronting returning veterans—physical limitations, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, workforce concerns. Since forming the Military Veteran Project in August 2012, Jarboe has traveled to nearly all of the country’s more than 800 VA hospitals and to countless homes to help veterans and their family members with a variety of needs. Last year alone she traveled 200 days.
“Because of my visibility with the military community during my husband’s hospitalizations and national media exposure about my story, people began reaching out to me to provide them with hope and help to move them forward,” she said. “I didn’t have a choice in losing Jamie, but I do have a choice in helping others live. It’s great to help men and women who served our country to realize that people care about them and their well-being and can connect them to resources.”
Growing up in three different foster homes, Jarboe, a Topeka native, had envisioned a different life for herself. Petite and competitive, Jarboe said she had power, money and success at the time Jamie was injured, “but none of that could save the man I loved. It broke me. Everything I’d worked for didn’t mean a thing.”
Today the Military Veteran Project has more than 1,000 volunteers all over the world and all funds are used in an effort to prevent military suicide through research and treatment. To this day, Jarboe takes no salary from her administrative role and 100 percent of the proceeds from her book, “Sacrificed,” available on Amazon, go directly towards the mission.
Jarboe, mother of two daughters, one a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and another who is 10, spends full days fielding phone calls from different time zones, facilitating meetings or flying to speaking engagements across the country,
“We live in the land of the free because of the brave,” she said. “I promised my husband he wouldn’t die in vain.”
Personal Invite From President of Topeka Chamber of Commerce, Matt Pivarnek
It is with a deep sense of honor and pride that I extend my personal invitation to you to attend the inaugural gathering of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce’s new Military Relations Council on Wednesday, October 19, 2016, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Ramada Topeka Downtown Grand Ballroom. The Military Relations Council will raise the level of interaction, mutual awareness, support and appreciation between the military and civilian business communities of Shawnee County and Northeast Kansas, strengthening the relationship between these two vitally important sectors of our community. Our inaugural luncheon will be a special event as we host nationally-renowned veteran and advocate, Michael Schlitz. SFC Schlitz has dedicated his life since retiring from the United States Army to helping our veterans who return from the actual field of combat to find they face an equally insidious enemy here at home in the form of post-traumatic stress injury and, increasingly, thoughts of suicide. SFC Schlitz has distinguished himself anew as a hero and we anticipate that his program will draw and inspire an enthusiastic audience at our inaugural luncheon. You won’t want to miss it. I hope you will make every effort to attend this special event and become part of the Chamber of Commerce’s new program to help Topeka become a community which truly values its military installations as integral parts of the local economy and culture and which is committed to the health and well-being of its active military residents and its veterans.