Veterans Moving Forward, Inc.

aka VetsFwd.org or VMF   |   Dulles, VA   |  http://www.vetsfwd.org

Mission

The mission of Veterans Moving Forward (VMF) is to “Provide service, emotional support, therapy or skilled companion dogs for veterans with physical and/or mental health challenges”. Through these services, VMF strives to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our disabled veterans by facilitating their recovery and increasing their safety and independence within their homes and communities. VMF provides canine support to address both visible and invisible wounds, ranging from adjusting to loss of limbs to post-traumatic stress. These disabilities may have been acquired either during military service to our country, or through an accident or illness incurred in private life following that service.

Notes from the nonprofit

Testimonials "In the patient lounge, while petting the [therapy] dog, Iden, they started to talk to one another about where they were stationed and where they were from. These guys had never spoken to one another before then, but while looking at, and petting the dog, they opened up and started talking." - Rene Hernandez, U.S. Navy "It is hard to put my gratitude into words. VMF has blessed my daughter with the opportunity to change her life by giving Jug to her. Only time will tell how and how much her life will change, but I am confident that those changes for the better will come. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I am a grateful mom!" - Kathy Hedrick, mom of service-disabled U.S. Air Force veteran of the Gulf War era "[Service dog] Edwin met Mark who was recently paralyzed, and I don't think I have ever seen anyone so happy to see a dog! He had his wife move her chair and the trays to make room for the dog to come in. Edwin walked over to the edge of the bed and started wagging his tail as he laid his muzzle on the man's torso. Mark wanted Edwin to get up on the bed with him so it would be easier for him to pet the dog. Edwin put his front feet up on the bed, then got close up to Mark and laid his head on Mark's chest and he even tried to sneak in a kiss. His handler said 'Hey, no kissing on the first date!' Mark said, 'That's ok' and let Edwin lick his face." - Wanda Schmitt, Marine Mom

Ruling year info

2010

President?CEO

Lewis Gordon Sumner

Main address

44225 Mercure Circle Suite 130

Dulles, VA 20166 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

27-3117964

NTEE code info

Military/Veterans' Organizations (W30)

Animal Related Activities N.E.C. (D99)

Health - General and Rehabilitative N.E.C. (E99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

We will provide service, emotional support, therapy or skilled companion dogs for veterans with physical and/or mental health challenges. Our Vision is to become “The premier, national, not-for-profit organization improving the lives of veterans needing service, emotional support, therapy or skilled companion dogs at no cost to the veterans.” Through our services VMF will make a meaningful difference in the lives of disabled veterans by facilitating their recovery and increasing their safety and independence within their homes and communities. We’ll accomplish this by providing canine support to address both visible and invisible injuries, ranging from adjusting to loss of limbs to post-traumatic stress. Additionally, our service and assistance dogs will support veterans and military service members at medical centers, at a variety of veteran support centers, clinics, potentially in one-on-one therapy with mental health professionals, as well as at stressful or emotional events.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Assistance/Service Dog Training

Acquire, raise, socialize and train (basic obedience) puppies or assistance dogs in training (ADITs) from 8 weeks of age until approximately 18 months of age to become therapy, facility or assistance dogs for veterans.

Population(s) Served
Veterans

VMF offers a variety of canine therapy services to veterans and military service members, including comfort dogs, certified therapy dogs and facility dogs.

Comfort dog teams provide opportunities for motivational, educational, recreational and/or therapeutic benefit to enhance quality of life for veterans by providing comfort and unconditional love to seriously ill or confined veterans.

Therapy dog teams participate in animal-assisted therapy with specific goals, objectives and progress documented by a health care professional within the scope of practice of his/her profession. Goals can include improvements in daily living skills, gross motor skills, socialization, mental stimulation, vocalization, and motivation to participate in therapy and recovery, as well as mitigation of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Facility dogs work at the side of a professional care-giver, health care practitioner, or physical or occupation therapist to engage veterans in activities to stimulate healing and recovery.

Population(s) Served
Veterans

Assistance/service dogs assist an independent veteran with a physical (visible) or mental health challenge (invisible) for service 24/7 x 365 for 5–7 years. Fully-trained dogs are capable of bringing calm to a veteran with PTSD and/or performing at least three specific tasks to mitigate the veteran's disability, such as retrieving dropped items, opening/closing doors, turning lights on/off, carrying items, and providing an alert in emergency.

Careful matching of the VMF dog against the wide range of veterans’ needs, along with training tailored to those specific needs, involves multiple assessments, home visits, and a probationary placement that can last between two weeks and four months. Throughout this time, the veteran and service dog continue to attend group and individual training sessions.

Population(s) Served
Veterans

VMF educates veterans, the health care community servicing them, and the general public on the efficacy of assistance/service dogs and canine therapy in treating both physical and mental health challenges. VMF strives to create a dynamic conversation on how service dogs and canine therapy address the unique needs of veterans and military service members and to be a resource promoting best practices in a non-regulated industry.

Population(s) Served
Veterans

VMF is a veteran-centric nonprofit organization that leverages veterans to help other veterans. VMF seeks experienced, qualified veterans or spouses of active, reserve or guard military personnel, who can work independently as volunteers or part time consultants. Veterans can be employed as puppy raisers/sitters, outreach ambassadors, administrative assistants, and managers/coordinators of transportation, the therapy team, special events, and marketing/communication.

Population(s) Served
Veterans

Where we work

Accreditations

Charity Navigator 2011

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of service dogs trained and placed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Assistance/Service Dog Training

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Placing a trained service dog with a specific veteran dealing with either a physical or mental challenge.

Number of service dogs provided to veterans

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Assistance/Service Dog Training

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Placing trained service dogs with veterans.

Number of applicants applying for service dogs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Assistance/Service Dog Training

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Increase number of veteran applications for service or emotional support dogs.

Number of applicants applying for an emotional support dog.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Assistance/Service Dog Placement

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Increase number of facilities applying for use of an emotional or therapy support dog for their clinics supporting veterans.

Number of applicants applying for comfort dog level training.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Assistance/Service Dog Placement

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

New program for 2020. Training dogs acquired by veterans to the "comfort dog" level so that the veteran can take the dog with them without fear of not being obdient when outside the house.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Priorities:
The highest priority of VMF is to fulfill its mission of providing (1) qualified assistance/service dogs to veterans and (2) associated canine therapy services for health care delivery to veterans with an increasing number each year.

Program Goals:
• Acquire and train puppies to become assistance/service dogs that meet the specific needs of their veteran.
• Place assistance/service dogs with veterans through a comprehensive matching process which ensures a high success rate.
• Provide continued training and guidance to veterans following service dog placement.
• Provide canine comfort/therapy services to veterans and active duty service members alongside their healthcare provider and at veteran-centric organizations and events.

Supporting Actions:
1. Recruit puppy raisers to raise, socialize and train puppies to become service, facility and therapy dogs for veterans.
2. Actively promote VMF service dogs to the veteran population and identify those in need of VMF highly trained service dogs.
3. Create and implement a strategy to reach out to clinicians and veteran-centric organizations to increase outreach to potential veteran applicants and reach of canine comfort/therapy services.
4. Establish a base of long-term, accredited puppy breeders.
5. Execute and maintain a volunteer recruitment, recognition and retention program.
6. Establish and execute marketing and communications plans to spread awareness of the benefits of service dogs for veterans; promote VMF activities and accomplishments; and recruit volunteers and veteran applicants.

Veterans Moving Forward has grown to the extent that we needed, and have moved into, a dedicated training center.

The VMF team includes a dedicated pool of unpaid volunteers, most of whom have extensive military or military family experience, as well as specialized consultants paid for specific tasks at highly reduced rates. The team includes dedicated professionals in the fields of accounting, animal behaviorists, behavioral health, business, law, nursing, marketing, occupational health, photojournalism, dog breeding and training, psychiatry, psychology, and veterinary medicine. Board members have military, non-profit financial and legal expertise, as well as oversight of our canine training and veteran matching programs.

To reach the military community and provide effective services, VMF has developed partnerships with over two dozen organizations and private clinicians over the past five years including medical centers, universities, and veteran-centric organizations.

VMF has expanded the financial donor base to support the current plan and laid the foundation for future expansion.

Through our services, VMF is making a meaningful difference in the lives of disabled veterans by facilitating their recovery and increasing their safety and independence within their homes and communities. All VMF dogs serve veterans and their families as our model focuses on providing a variety of services in the form of highly trained comfort dogs, therapy dogs, facility dogs and service dogs.

VMF provides canine support to address both visible and invisible injuries, ranging from adjusting to loss of limbs to post-traumatic stress. These disabilities may result from either U.S. military service or through an accident or illness incurred in private life following that service. VMF’s service and assistance dogs will support veterans and military service members at medical centers, at a variety of veteran support centers, clinics, potentially in one-on-one therapy with mental health professionals, as well as at stressful or emotional events.

Veterans in need may receive service dogs after a VMF’s meticulous matching process that includes multiple assessments, approximately two years of puppy training, and multiple training sessions for the matched veteran and service dog. VMF’s careful matching of the service dog with the specific range of a veteran’s needs, along with the training tailored to meet those specific needs ensures a highly successful veteran-dog placement.

The current Department of Veteran Affairs’ policy is to provide service dogs only to veterans with visual or hearing impairment or select mobility challenges. VMF aims to focus on providing canine support to meet the full range of services (from dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to adjusting to loss of limbs or immobility) to meet the significant, unfulfilled needs of our Nation’s veterans of any armed service from any generation, campaign or peacetime service.

The VMF difference stems from our understanding and appreciation that each veteran and their challenges are unique to that individual veteran and his or her environment. Our meticulous custom matching of a veteran’s needs, the recognition of how canine therapy can play an important part of any veteran’s recovery, and then matching a dog’s capacity to provide the support to meet those needs includes multiple assessments and months, sometimes years of puppy training.

We are improving in every area, from growth in program successes (placement of service dogs and increasing therapy services), to increase in the volunteer corps numbers, strengthening of staff processes, and annual increases of fundraising goals and actual income.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    SMS text surveys, Case management notes, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Increased training programs to include emotional support, therapy and comfort dog training programs for veterans.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

Veterans Moving Forward, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Veterans Moving Forward, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 2/4/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Robert Rosenkranz

TRAX International, Army Veteran, Major General, Retired


Board co-chair

Reuben Jones

Strategic Resources, Inc., Army Veteran, Major General, Retired

Diane Nakashima - Barstein

The Retirement Advisor University, Inc.

Lyn Sherlock

L&R Sherlock Consultants, LLC; U.S. Air Force Affairs, Brigadier General, US Air Force, Retired

John Prufeta

Medical Excellence, Inc.

Laurence Grayer

DynCorp International

Andrew Cohen

Army Emergency Relief Foundation

Bud Schiff

Alvarez & Marsal

Kevin Callen

TESSE

Sandy Daniels

Retired

David Shulkin

Self-employed consultant

Jim Byrne

Self-employed consultant

Ben Hodges

CESA

Gary Profit

Self-employed, consultant

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 02/04/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Native American/American Indian/Indigenous
Gender identity
Male

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/04/2021

Policies and practices developed in partnership with Equity in the Center, a project that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.