THIS ABLE VETERAN

Canine partners for the journey back home

aka TAV   |   Carbondale, IL   |  www.thisableveteran.org

Mission

This Able Veteran (TAV) returns hope to injured veterans and their families by providing PTSD service dogs and a trauma resiliency program for those with psychological and physical injuries as a result of their service.

Notes from the nonprofit

As noted in our Annual Review, we have partnered with one of our breeders in a Breeding Program. We anticipate this will be the cornerstone of a continued source for the best purpose-bred dogs for our work. We continue in our efforts to expand the organization and our services through 2020. We have added dog trainers to our staff with vast experience in training dogs for mobility. This addition allows us to serve a wider range of veterans suffering not only with PTSD but also mobility issues. As a result of COVID-19, we are adjusting our program to include healthcare providers and first responders that are also military veterans who suffer from PTSD. We will be ready to incorporate this demographic in our 2021 class.

Ruling year info

2011

President

Mrs. Pamela Largent

Vice President

Mr. Jeffery Speith

Main address

1714 S Wolf Creek Rd

Carbondale, IL 62902 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

27-5103356

NTEE code info

Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution (W12)

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

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, National Center for PTSD the number of veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is 15-30%. The number of Vietnam veterans that experience PTSD is 31%, Desert Storm is 10% and OIF/OEF is 11-20%. It is difficult if not impossible to gauge the number of veterans with undiagnosed or unreported PTSD. This Able Veteran helps them come home in body and mind. We train service dogs to support veterans with psychological injuries. This Able Veteran trained service dogs are able to interrupt the cycles of PTSD. Our unique model for trauma recovery not only involves the training of dogs, but also the essential component of how the veteran and the veteran’s therapist will use the dog as part of their long-term recovery plan. This unique model of care has proven to be effective where traditional therapies and dog programs have failed.

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?

PTSD Service Dog Trainer Academy

A dog training school teaching dog trainers to train service dogs for American veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), how to identify service dog candidates who are likely to be most successful, how to identify veterans who are likely to be good candidates for service dogs and the pairing of service dog/veteran teams.

Training PTSD service dogs for military veterans requires very specialized knowledge and skills - in both the trainer and the dog. These service dogs must possess a perceptive nature; a courteous, compliant temperament; and an intuitive spirit in order to perform their work independently when the veteran is in crisis. Service dog trainers must learn to identify and evaluate these unique dogs and teach them to recognize and interrupt behaviors associated with PTSD symptoms including anxiety responses, panic attacks and nightmares. Trainers must also learn to evaluate both canines and veterans in order to effectively pair a successful team.

TAV’s PTSD Service Dog Trainer Academy includes both classroom and hands-on education.

Understanding the causes and signs of PTSD is essential to knowing what the veteran needs and feels, and how a service dog can benefit them. Classroom work includes lectures which provide a clear understanding of trauma and PTSD, the struggles and behaviors associated with psychological injuries and how service dogs can be an important piece of the recovery process.

Gaining an understanding of the symptoms of PTSD dovetails into how and why we train the dog to recognize and interrupt anxiety, panic attacks and nightmares.

To shorten PTSD service dog training time and maximize training efforts, academy students learn to identify ideal breeding, temperament, behavior and physical traits that ensure the selection of the best PTSD service dog candidates.

PTSD service dogs are not the answer for every veteran. TAV academy students learn to recognize and select veterans most likely to benefit and recover long-term. TAV has developed an in-depth application and screening process. Students learn to evaluate the veteran’s needs, support system and their desire to heal. This process enables dog trainers to determine if a service dog can be a key to a veteran’s recovery.

A properly selected, expertly trained and skillfully matched service dog can be an incredibly transformative agent in the life of the injured service member. The right match can help veterans cultivate the independence and confidence to reclaim their lives.

Academy students gain a solid understanding not only of what PTSD dogs actually do, but an awareness of what they should not do. Trainers develop the skills to teach dogs: to announce the early onset of anxiety/panic attacks in both private and public environments; to ‘embrace’ (hugging action) for times of emotional crises; to ignore other animal/human solicitation for attention; to interrupt nightmares. Trainers also learn how to teach the veteran to utilize the dog through crises and to integrate the dog into the family; about myths and misunderstandings regarding PTSD dogs; to understand military culture; how therapists can integrate the dog into therapy; to understand and recognize the symptoms of PTSD and how to properly train a dog to assist in recovery.

Population(s) Served
Adults

WE TRAIN SERVICE DOGS TO SUPPORT VETERANS WITH INJURIES. TAV-trained service dogs interrupt the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and support veterans with mobility issues. First, we develop the skills needed in the dogs. Our dogs are custom trained for each individual veteran’s needs – including to alert to signs of anxiety and to interrupt nightmares. We work with our dogs until they will perform reliably for their veteran in all of life’s daily settings including in restaurants, stores, parks, baseball games and the home.

When the dog is fully trained, it is paired with its veteran. The pairing process occurs over the course of three weeks. During this time we help the dogs and veterans learn to recognize each other’s signals and forming a bond strong enough to carry veterans through their life’s challenges and support their ongoing journey of recovery.

HOW WE SUCCEED
We have developed a veteran-centric model of care that involves the veteran, their therapist, the service dog and This Able Veteran’s Trauma Resiliency Program.

We have a unique model that integrates highly trained service dogs with a resiliency program and life-skills training component that complements the veteran’s ongoing therapeutic programs. This Able Veteran empowers veterans to take charge of their individual recovery journey while experiencing the skilled training of their service dogs. This unique model of care is demonstrating effectiveness beyond that typically seen in traditional therapeutic programs or in programs that provide only service dogs.

Topics in our 3-week Trauma Resiliency Program include:

Human Resilience
Healing a wounded soul
Managing sympathetic arousal & hypervigilance
Understanding stress: The body-mind connection
Breath control
Mindfulness
Autogenic training
Insight into our life stories
Controlling anger
Understanding fear
Suicide: Warning signs and what to do about them
Understanding personal vulnerabilities
Coping strategies that backfire: Alcohol,
drugs, marijuana
Coping with criticism
Insomnia
Trauma & PTSD
Medications and their effects
Managing life’s daily challenges
Post-Traumatic growth
Intrusive thoughts: Managing, controlling, healing
Acceptance: Living and coping with major losses
Acceptance of the unthinkable
Maintaining balance in your life
Happiness is an inside job

Population(s) Served
Veterans
Families

An academy of essential skills for the PTSD service dog trainer. We heard from many professional and experienced dog trainers who want to help our veterans, especially those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). So, we created a dog trainers academy just for them. Our PTSD Essentials Service Dog Academy is taught at the same level of instruction as our advanced PTSD Service Dog Trainer Academy.
We designed this academy to help professional dog trainers advance their current skill sets, and to help build a solid foundation for those who want to become dog trainers. The PTSD Essentials Service Dog Academy is focused on helping trainers learn why dogs do what they do, how to understand their signals, behaviors and expressions to create an environment that promotes rapid, conflict-free learning in the dog/handler relationship.
This academy is one of the most behavior-based trainer schools in the United States. We recommend this course for those who want to enroll in our PTSD Service Dog Trainer Academy, but really, it’s valuable for any dog trainer seeking additional training experience.
Students learn to:
* Recognize and read communication in dog posture, facial expression, body language, movement and tonal inflection.
* Identify the numerous and diverse sources of canine behavior. Understanding the root of dog behavior is critical for effective dog training.
* Understand how the dog brain processes and stores information, and how to make associations between stimuli and reward to ensure long-term memory and performance under stress.
What trainers can expect:
* Personal, hands-on interactive work with untrained dogs.
* Examples of dog communication in video footage.
* Large field pack socialization.
* Personal coaching.
* Assigned “project dogs.”
* A greater understanding of how to use with dogs’ instincts to achieve results
There are many different approaches to dog training. But there is no substitute for learning to view the world through a dog’s eyes. Understanding how a dog sees things will cut years off your learning curve as a trainer.

Population(s) Served
Veterans

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Assoc. Service Dog Providers for Military Providers 2016

Assoc. Service Dog Providers for Military Providers 2017

Assoc. Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans 2018

Assoc. Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans 2019

Assoc. Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans 2020

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

Severity of PTSD symptoms - research results - self-reported by Class 6 veteransPre-treatment - 59.4Post treatment (6 months) - 32.4Higher the score = greater distress

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

Intersex people, Adults, Multiracial people

Related Program

Trauma Resiliency program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Research study conducted during the 2018 class. Self-reported by veterans; 1 month prior through 6 months post treatment. Study will continue thru 2020.

Perception of social support - Class 6 veteransPre-treatment - 44.8Post treatment (6 months) - 51.2Higher score indicates higher perception of social support

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

Intersex people, Adults, Multiracial people

Related Program

Trauma Resiliency program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Research study conducted during 2018 class. Self-reported by veterans. 1 month prior to and continuing thru 6 months post treatment. Study will continue thru 2020.

Depression - Class 6 veteransPre-treatment - 8.4Post treatment (6 months) - 4.0Higher score indicates greater severity of depressive symptoms

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

Intersex people, Adults, Multiracial people

Related Program

Trauma Resiliency program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Research study conducted during 2018 class. Self-reported by veterans. 1 month prior to and continuing thru 6 months post treatment. Study will continue thru 2020.

Quality of Life - Class 6 veteransPre-treatment - 56.4Post treatment (6 months) - 81.2Higher score indicates better perception of quality of life

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

Intersex people, Adults, Multiracial people

Related Program

Trauma Resiliency program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Research study conducted during 2018 class. Self-reported by veterans. 1 month prior to and continuing thru 6 months post treatment. Study will continue thru 2020.

Anger reactions - Class 6 veteransPre-treatment - 15.8Post treatment (6 months) - 6.8Higher score indicates more difficulty with anger

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

Intersex people, Adults, Multiracial people

Related Program

Trauma Resiliency program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

.Research study conducted during 2018 class. Self-reported by veterans. 1 month prior to and continuing thru 6 months post treatment. Study will continue thru 2020.

Number of Facebook followers

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

Adults

Related Program

Trauma Resiliency program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our organization has consistently maintained a 4.9 of 5 on reviews. Messages are typically responded to within one day. Multiple posts are shared each week of our dogs, training and events.

Total dollars received in contributions

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

Adults

Related Program

Trauma Resiliency program

Type of Metric

Other - describing something else

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

As our organization grows, we continue to enjoy more corporate partnerships and sponsors.

Number of conferences held

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

Adults, Families

Related Program

Trauma Resiliency program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This Able Veteran led the initiative to bring awareness and education to the community around PTSD and suicide. In 2019 we included emphasis on healthcare providers for veterans & offered CEU's.

Number of conference attendees

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

Adults, Caregivers, Families

Related Program

Trauma Resiliency program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our PTSD Awareness Conference is offered free to veterans, their families and the community at large. There is no cost to attend this conference. CEUs provided to healthcare providers.

Number of return website visitors

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

Adults, Veterans

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

During 2017 we averaged 4,430 active users each month, or 150 per day. There were 75,533 new users during that time with 147,460 page views.

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.

Over 600,000 veterans suffer from traumatic stress injuries; 20 veterans take their lives every day. Veterans that are currently deployed in theaters of war are returning home every day. One of the many difficulties those with PTSD deal with is a tendency to isolate themselves. The ramifications of this not only impact the veteran's relationships, but continues the cycle of the disorder. Our primary goal is to provide those veterans suffering with psychological injuries with the tools, skills and knowledge to reclaim the lives they have lost. We help the veteran build a bond with their service dog; along with our Trauma Resiliency Training Program we provide a solid infrastructure to recapture the life they once had. The community we invite them to be a part of ensures continuing support and allows the veteran to give back to their comrades that have been injured.

1. Provide specially selected and trained service dogs, and our unique Trauma Resiliency Training Program to veterans suffering with psychological injuries.
2. Train other trainers. Our PTSD Service Dog Trainer Academy prepares highly specialized dog trainers with unique skills to train service dogs. The training expertise our students gain ultimately benefit many injured veterans.
3. Study the long-term efficacy of our PTSD service dogs and Trauma Resiliency Training.

Our founder and Training Director has 25 years experience training dogs. She brings a unique perspective to training and communicating with dogs and is a highly sought-after resource for professional trainers seeking to better understand the dogs they train. She has conducted seminars for and coached professional trainers throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. She is a certified Life Coach and has developed a veteran centric model of care that involves the veteran, their clinician, the service dog and This Able Veteran. The other instructor/course developer of our program is a licensed Clinical Psychologist with more than 50 years experience. He not only works with veterans with PTSD and TBI, but also with police officers, firefighters, etc.
We have developed working relationships with dog breeders that specialize in breeding dogs for service dog work, with veterinarians, and with organizations that provide products that are used in our work. This year we entered into a partnership to start a breeding program.
This Able Veteran has developed strong community support through our affiliation with Rotary International, various Veteran of Foreign War and American Legion posts, Elks, Gateway Warriors, American Dog Obedience Center LLC, Bank of Carbondale, Old National Bank, Walmart Foundation, Illinois State Fair, and many others.
We are a charter member in the Association for Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans. We helped write the standards for service dogs; legislation around this initiative is awaiting presentation to Congress.

To date, we have provided service dogs and Trauma Resiliency Training to 50+ injured veterans. After each class, we conduct an "after action" session to determine what worked and what could be improved. The results of this brainstorming activity are used to update our program.

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?

    Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person),

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

    To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We are currently in the planning process to bring healthcare workers and first responders into our program as a result of COVID-19. These individuals will still need to meet our basic criteria: military veteran, diagnosis of PTSD, in therapy, and having the support/means to properly care for the service dog. We are reviewing the application and selection process. Another committee will begin the review of course materials. We are partnering with former veteran graduates to determine the best means of integrating this demographic into the organization.

  • 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?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback,

Financials

THIS ABLE VETERAN
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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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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

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

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THIS ABLE VETERAN

Board of directors
as of 2/9/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Pam Largent

This Able Veteran

Term: 2014 -

Alicia Ruiz

Retired

Jonathan Mitchell

Air Force Reserves

Jeff Speith

Banterra Bank

Phil Schafer

SIH

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 02/09/2021

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
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/30/2020

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 disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • 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 have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • 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.