Freemasons Foundation Victoria (FFV), together with the Victorian Naval & Military Lodge, United Service Lodge and The Army Lodge have announced a donation that will help a Veteran or First Responder rebuild their life.
The $6,500 contribution to Integra Service Assistance Dogs is enough to purchase a partially trained Labrador from an assistant dog organisation, to be matched, placed and further trained for a veteran or first responder suffering from PTSD.
The Army Lodge’s Bunnings Sausage Sizzles raised $1000; FFV contributed $5,000 through the Masonic Grants program; and a further $500 was raised at the recent Annual Combined Lodges ANZAC Reunion Meeting – a lunch event and opportunity for brethren to come together in comradeship and in memory of the Fallen.
Founded by Veterans, the Integra program trains either a Veteran or a First Responder and dog as a unified team, creating a powerful bond. The support from these exceptional dogs is known to lead to reduced periods of hospitalisation and medication levels, and helps individuals rebuild trust and relationships, connect with family, friends and the community. The members of the Army Lodge have first-hand experience of the value of this program.
“We have witnessed the impact in our lodge of one of our members who suffers PTSD and has a Service Assistance Dog. The dog can detect when his master is experiencing anxiety and provides comfort to him. This also allows our members to understand from the dog's signals, which we wouldn't pick up, that his master is in need of support and we can respond accordingly. Without his Assistance Dog, he would not be able to participate effectively."
Phil Watson, Secretary, Army Lodge.