By: Jarret Romanello
Photos: K2 Photography & Marketing
September 17, 2021
(PORT ST. LUCIE, FL) Deb Doherty is on a mission to serve veterans through Dedicated, Devoted Solutions that positively impact their lives. With 22 veterans committing suicide each day, Doherty is leading the charge on the Treasure Coast to destigmatize PTSD and find help for veterans suffering from the physical and invisible wounds of war.
She started DDS4VETS three years ago after her brother, a Navy Corpsman, took his life after struggling with a service-connected injury, which led to PTSD and a reliance on drugs and alcohol to ease the pain. Doherty is using the tragedy to help others, “God has a way of using a bad situation for something good, and that’s why I started DDS4VETS,” Doherty told The St. Lucie Post.
While COVID-19 slowed down most veteran services, DDS4VETS connects them with their community partners to get help quickly. Through partnering with other veteran organizations and local businesses, DDS4VETS is building a resource center to prioritize veterans and promote positive and lasting change in their lives. “Our local veterans need help,” Doherty told The St. Lucie Post.
DDS4VETS offers legal assistance, chiropractic care, dental care, counseling, financial guidance, transitional support, employment and business opportunities, and educational alternatives through their community partners. But their real passion – providing highly trained service dogs to military veterans who have PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and physical challenges.
She’s partnered with renowned national K9 Trainer Mike Loraine who runs Canines Assisting Military Operators (CAMO) to train service dogs for disabled veterans. “These dogs help veterans cope with PTSD by reducing social anxiety, easing loneliness and stress, and reducing the reliance on prescription drugs,” Doherty said.
Training service dogs isn’t easy or cheap. It takes up to 18 months and $ 60,000 to get them ready to companion veterans. To fund the project, DDS4Vets is hosting a Believe in the Mission Gala on Saturday, October 16, 2021, at 6:00 P.M. at the Hutchinson Island Marriott. Tickets for the formal event are $ 250 and include cocktails, dinner, and live/silent auctions.
The evening will feature Keynote Speaker General Donald Bolduc- a true American hero that’s served eight tours overseas, surviving several battlefield traumas, including a helicopter crash and the detonation of 2,000 lbs. bomb near him. General Bolduc is on a mission to let veterans know there is nothing wrong or weak with seeking help for PTSD. “Our veterans have given so much, and we have to let them know, their reactions to the traumas of war are normal, and there is nothing wrong with asking for help,” Doherty said.
Karen Vaugh of Operation 300 and Dr. Brain Moriarty will be the Gala’s emcees. Fox News Contributor David Webb, US Department of Veteran’s Affairs Deputy Director for Compensation and Pension Charles Barnes, Award-Winning Director and Producer Michael Grier, Congressman Brian Mast, and Port St. Lucie Assistant Chief of Police Richard Del Toro will be special guests at the Gala. “It’s amazing how the support of our mission has gained national attention; this is going to be the Event of The Year on the Treasure Coast with an All-Star line-Up,” Doherty said.
Combat infantry veteran Jimmy Jackson was homeless after the Iraq War and wants to help veterans get back on their feet – as he did. He started Do You Give A Ruck to raise money for and bring awareness to veteran issues and raised $15,000 for DDS4VETS at a Family Fun Ruck on September 11th at Keiser University in Port St. Lucie. “They road march the same way the infantry trains with heavy packs and determination,” Doherty said.
Doherty is grateful for sponsors like the Busch Family Foundation and USA Dental, who believe in DDS4VETS Mission. She’s looking forward to the Gala and very excited to connect a veteran with a service dog to improve their life. “DDS4VETS goal is to Bridge the Gap between veterans and the services that they are entitled to,” Doherty said.
For more information about DDS4VETS or the Believe in The Mission Gala, visit www.dds4vets.org.