Virginia Beach organization pairs service dogs with Hampton Roads veterans

Posted at 11:26 AM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 18:54:00-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A Virginia Beach organization trains and pairs service dogs with veterans in Hampton Roads.

The group is called Mutts With A Mission, and director Brooke Corson said they raise and train dogs year-round to become ADI (Assistance Dogs International)-certified service dogs. She said they pair them with first responders, law enforcement and veterans.

“This is our way of giving back, our veterans and first responders really sacrifice for us. Whether it’s here at home or overseas, they give up a lot,” Corson said.

Brent Martin got his dog, Atlas, certified via the program in January. Martin is a 22-year Navy veteran who just retired in 2021. He said Atlas helps him with his anxiety and mental health.

“The difference between now and when I entered the program is probably 180 degrees," Martin said.

In his career, Martin was deployed 14 times. He said the Fourth of July holiday especially can be a difficult time of year for some veterans, himself included.

“The random gunshots, the random fireworks that you’re not really expecting, it makes it hard to kind of stay calm," Martin said.

Martin told News 3 Atlas has changed his life for the better, and helps him daily at work and at home.

“He can sense when I’m becoming agitated or overstimulated," Martin said.

If you're interested in volunteering with Mutts With A Mission, they're currently looking for puppy raisers. More information can be found here on volunteer opportunities as well as how to obtain a service dog.