by Lisa Tome
Seven months into the Healing Heroes program and Armstrong has already met their goal.
So they plan to expand their commitment to veterans.
In partnership with Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Armstrong is providing a trained rescue service dog to a local veteran with disabilities. They are assisting those who have served and subsequently suffer from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, seizures and other conditions resulting from their service. Each dog costs about $22,000 before it can be provided to a veteran in need. The original commitment by Armstrong was five dogs. The new goal was six. Now it's become an ongoing effort.
Heather Erickson, Community Marketing Manager and Ryan Sexton, Armstrong's new local programmer, explained how well it's been received.
The original plan was for Armstrong to provide the five service dogs - one to the Cecil County area, and others to other regions the communications company serves. Armstrong is matching donations. The company is also working to raise awareness about the plight of 22 veterans who are committing suicide daily as a result of their illness/injury.
Erickson said Armstrong employees and members of the community have embraced the program. Staffers from the Rising Sun office including Abby Wells, Kristine Morris, Melanie McGonigle, and Donna Eller have donated supplies and held regular raffles to raise money for Healing Heroes. They create raffle baskets and customers who stop by to pay their bill, buy chances. "People are enjoying the raffles," said Erickson. Armstrong is also selling small plush dogs to support Healing Heroes. The dogs cost $10 each. Shirts and hats with sales helping to fund service dogs are also coming soon.
"Healing Heroes is Armstrong's way of giving back," said Erickson. Healing Heroes compliments existing Armstrong feeding programs.
Sexton, who will be providing programming on Armstrong's "A" channel, is familiar with the military. His grandfather, Robert Fisher, is a WWII veteran. "With the group of people in my life, I'm surrounded by veterans. It's great to see everyone supporting veterans. Everyone should be supporting our veterans and this is a way for us to give back for them. We met the goal and have now set a new goal," Sexton said.
To donate, checks should be made payable to Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Inc. and mailed to Armstrong c/o Healing Heroes One Armstrong Place, Butler, Pa. 16001. You may also donate online at www.medicalservicedogs.org and select Armstrong as the designation so that your donation will be matched.