SRU Student Veterans group seeks donations for service dog

soldier and service dog

Slippery Rock University’s chapter of the Student Veterans of America is seeking donations to match a service dog with a student-veteran at SRU. The goal is to raise $15,000 for three specially-trained service dogs over the next three years, with the first to be presented at SRU’s Veterans Day ceremony in November.

May 10, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Much has been said, written and researched about the bond between people and their pets. Nowhere is that tie stronger than when a service animal is involved.

Think of the service animal as a medication, only without any ill side effects.

With that in mind, the Slippery Rock University chapter of the Student Veterans of America is seeking $15,000 in donations so that for the next three years a student-veteran at SRU could be matched with a permanent service dog that is specifically trained to meet the veteran's needs. Individually trained service dogs help improve the quality of life for those with a disability, including those suffering from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

The goal is to present the first service dog to a qualified, yet to be determined student-veteran, during SRU's annual Veterans Day ceremony and breakfast, Nov. 11. There are more than 100 students at SRU who identify as veterans and an additional 250-300 military-affiliated students who are either in the National Guard, Reserves, contracted ROTC cadets or dependents in military families.

matthew lobaugh

   LOBAUGH

"This is an excellent opportunity to show compassion to those who served our country and to improve the lives of SRU students," said Matthew Lobaugh, assistant director of recreational sports and adviser for the University's chapter of the SVA. "These contributions serve a specific need that you can see in the companionship between a veteran and a service dog. That meaningful bond is invaluable and appreciated on a daily basis."

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, between 11-20 percent of all veterans who served in wars in Iraqi and Vietnam suffer from PTSD in a given year, compared to 7-8 percent of the general U.S. population at any point in their lives.

"Having served in the military, I recognize the challenges our veterans face when they return home," said Lobaugh, a former U.S. Army sergeant who served for 12 years, including a yearlong deployment during the Iraq War. "They gave so much to our country, so any resource or gesture we can provide them helps show our appreciation and enhances their lives."

Donations for the campaign to help pay to place a service dog with an SRU student-veteran are currently being accepted through the SRU Foundation Inc.'s crowdfunding website, https://raise.sru.edu/.

For more information about the Service Dog for Student Veteran at SRU program, contact Lobaugh at: matthew.lobaugh@sru.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 | justin.zackal@sru.edu