PUBLIC PROFILE: Operation Rambo Provides Support for Military Veteran’s Service Dogs
Raymond Rosa: Director, Operation Rambo
Rogue Valley Messenger: Can you talk about why vets have service dogs? What is the need, and how many people are we talking about in the region?
Raymond Rosa: Many veterans have physical disabilities that limit and make day to day activities a burden, as well as mental trauma brought on by the horrors of war. 22 veterans commit suicide everyday because they don’t know where to turn. Being able to have a companion that is always there for the person 24/7 provides comfort and gives the veteran a sense of purpose of being, the service dog can also help with providing specialized training to help the veteran for what specific needs the veteran requires. Having a S.D. to take care of has been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and stress, and if it keeps just one veteran from committing suicide, then it is all worth it. There are thousands of disabled veterans just in the Rogue Valley alone, as well as many thousands more nationally.
RVM: Where are the service dogs coming from?
RR: We are working with a local breeder who is donating us pups to be able to raise and train for service dogs for local disabled veterans that are in need of a Service animal. We also have volunteer trainers that come in to help with training young pups.
RVM: Operation Rambo specifically provides support and care to the rescue dogs—and makes sure they get medical attention if they need it, and other basics. How big of a need is this?
RR: Our goal is to be able to provide emergent medical attention for surgeries for service animals of disabled veterans, as there is nothing that the V.A. provides in this area, and in that there is a need for such help for disabled veterans. We are also providing basic training for service dogs and then specialized training as per the disabled veterans’ needs. We can also in some cases provide companion dogs for a veteran that doesn’t need a service dog but does need a companion to help them through their situation.
RVM: What’s your background with nonprofits?
RR: Many of our board members have various backgrounds with non-profit work. We have a veterinarian that has been involved with many animal charities. Our breeder has been involved with Dogs for the Deaf, among other charities. One of our other board members has worked with Goodwill and other various local and federal charities. I have been involved with several charities through fundraising for The Boys and Girls club, Josephine County Food bank, Josephine County Spay and Neuter fund, and the Humane Society.
RVM: How did this idea come about?
RR: I had had an incident where my service dog had torn his ACL and required surgery. Through the generosity of animal lovers I was able to get his leg fixed, and he was able to return back to normal, with a titanium plate and screws securing the leg. It was a very trying time and very hard to deal with a situation like this, especially given that the V.A.. has no programs to help veterans with service animals. It was through this, that I decided to turn it around and be able to pay it forward to help other disabled veterans that have service animals that require emergent surgery procedures.
The service dogs and training came about from a phone call from a local breeder that wanted to get on board and who knows that there is a real need for SD for disabled veterans in this region. It took off from there.
RVM: What is the organization named after?
RR: My Service dogs name is “Rambo,” also everything the military does is called a “operation,” I decided to call the non-profit “Operation Rambo,” both as a tribute to our veterans that we owe a debt of gratitude to for our freedom, as well as paying tribute to the movie “Rambo,” with Sylvester Stallone playing the part of “John Rambo,” a representation of what a lot of veterans faced when returning from service.