TYSONS, Va., Oct. 31, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- PenFed Foundation, a national nonprofit organization committed to helping members of our military community secure their financial future, is welcoming an assistance dog in-training, WestPoint, as part of PenFed Credit Union's continuing partnership with Canine Companions for Independence®. WestPoint's puppy raiser is retired Army General John "Mick" Nicholson, PenFed Foundation President and the first four-star general to raise an assistance dog.
"My wife Norine and I are thrilled to welcome WestPoint as he begins his journey to have a powerful impact in the life of a veteran or other person with a disability," General Nicholson said. "Working with a mission-driven organization like the Canine Companions team is a privilege and their core values of community and compassionate service align with ours at the PenFed Foundation."
General Nicholson and his wife traveled to the Canine Companions for Independence Northeast Training Center in Medford, N.Y., to receive WestPoint. Video of the special moment can be viewed here. General Nicholson also met with a wounded veteran who served under his command in Afghanistan who was at the center to receive a fully-trained assistance dog.
The yellow Labrador and Golden Retriever cross joins five additional assistance dogs in-training that PenFed employees are raising. WestPoint will spend the next 18 months as part of the PenFed family in preparation for the next step in the program, where he will spend an additional six months with Canine Companions' professional instructors learning over 40 professional commands that are useful to a person with disabilities.
General Nicholson, who was the longest-serving commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is the first four-star military officer to raise an assistance dog with the mission of completing training and going on to help a wounded warrior or other person with a disability. WestPoint is named after Nicholson's alma mater, The United States Military Academy at West Point, where he served as the First Captain, the highest position in the cadet chain of command.
In addition to welcoming WestPoint in the workplace, PenFed and PenFed Foundation have donated over $100,000 to Canine Companions and are covering all costs associated with raising the dogs.
"Our assistance dogs in-training are part of a mission to help open doors for people with disabilities to become more independent. They also provide unconditional love, companionship and loyalty," said James Schenck, President and CEO of PenFed Credit Union and CEO of the PenFed Foundation. "I especially thank General Nicholson and our five other PenFed teammates who have volunteered to do the important work of raising these assistance dogs in-training."
The PenFed Foundation was created in 2001 and, since then, has provided more than $34.5 million in financial support to veterans, active-duty service members, families and caregivers. Those interested in supporting the PenFed Foundation's mission to help the military community and their support network are encouraged to visit penfedfoundation.org.
For the last 44 years, Canine Companions has been committed to providing highly trained dogs to children, adults, veterans, and professionals serving over 65 disabilities nationally with 6 training centers. Service dogs assist adults with physical disabilities by performing daily tasks. Hearing dogs alert their partners, who have a hearing disability, to important sounds. Facility dogs work with clients with special needs in a visitation, education, criminal justice or health care setting. Skilled companions enhance independence for children and adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities.
About PenFed Foundation Founded in 2001, the PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization committed to helping members of our military community secure their financial future. It provides service members, Veterans, their families and support networks with the skills and resources they need to improve their lives through programs on financial education, home ownership, short-term assistance, and veteran entrepreneurial assistance. Affiliated with PenFed Credit Union, the Foundation has the resources to effectively reach military communities across the nation, build strong partnerships, and engage a dedicated corps of volunteers in its mission. In 2018, 95% of funds raised supported programs and PenFed Credit Union covers the Foundation's salaries and administrative costs. Equal Housing Opportunity. To learn more, visit www.penfedfoundation.org.
About Canine Companions for Independence® Canine Companions for Independence® provides expertly trained assistance dogs to children, adults and veterans with disabilities. Established in 1975 in California, Canine Companions is the largest non-profit provider of assistance dogs in the United States. Canine Companions is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between people and dogs. There is no charge for the dog, its training and on-going follow-up services. For more information, visit www.cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK.