Every day in the United States, 22 Veterans sadly end their lives through suicide. This is a true pandemic in our nation that has been occurring for far too long. Our veterans have fought for us and sacrificed so much only to come home following war a changed person and have their government fail them over and over.
This is why we serve those who have served and we won't stop our efforts to help our veterans until no veteran ever feels alone. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem and we will always have the backs of our nation's heroes. A single veteran suicide is too many.
How do we help veterans who are suffering post-traumatic stress disorder get their lives back? Is there a way to stop even one veteran from taking their own life due to the effects of post-traumatic stress? Those are the questions Michael Connors is trying to answer.
A combat veteran himself, Michael knows the uncertainty service members face when returning from overseas deployments, often not getting access to the services needed to overcome the invisible wounds of war once they retire. On average, 22 veterans a day lose their battle to those invisible wounds and commit suicide. Service dogs have long been proven as a benefit to those suffering from PTSD and helping those veterans win their battle.
After serving in the US Army for over a decade and reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant, Michael was medically retired in 2016. As his time in service came to an end, he spent 18 months in the hospital at Walter Reed, recovering from his own wounds of war, where he first hand witnessed the struggles veterans were experiencing. This resulted in his future motivation and ambition to be focused on serving his fellow veterans. Michael’s passion to continue serving flourished and he has been dedicated to supporting veterans through animal assisted service and mental health ever since.
Upon his retirement, Michael attended Animal Behavior College while working for two organizations certified by Assistance Dogs International.
In 2018, Michael went full time with his canine training business, Colorado K9 Company, formally known as Connors K9 Academy, with the goal of providing professional service dogs to veterans in need. Michael helped in establishing another organization for veterans, bringing not only immense knowledge and skill to the training aspect of assistance animals but also the leadership and dedication to serving the veteran community.
As a disabled veteran who knows the struggles personally that those transitioning out of the military face, Michael felt the desire to do more in service to his fellow brothers and sisters. In 2022, Michael created a program through Colorado K9 Company to serve veterans through the procurement of professional custom service dogs. That program quickly became the 501c3 nonprofit organization that PAWS has become today.
When Michael was at his lowest in the hospital, he was introduced to a program where veterans learn to train service dogs for other veterans. This program saved his life when one of the dogs in the program actually prevented his own suicide attempt.
Gunner has been serving as both the organization's ambassadog and an organization therapy dog over the last 3 years.
He's a joyful loving pup that has been an essential asset to our organization through our development.
Castle Rock, Colorado 80104, United States