TYSONS, Va., Nov. 11, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The PenFed Foundation, a national 501(c)3 founded by PenFed Credit Union, today announced Foundation President and retired U.S. Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, Jr., received The Col. E. David Woycik, Jr., USA (Ret.), Esq. and Lance Corporal Matias Ferreira, USMC (Ret.) Outstanding Service Award. Gen. Nicholson accepted the award virtually during Canine Companions for Independence®'s "Saluting Independence" live webcast.
The award is presented annually by Canine Companions to an individual for outstanding leadership and distinguished military service to our country or for significant long-time volunteer service for our veterans in furtherance of the ideals of honor, integrity, loyalty and service to the United States of America.
"On behalf of the PenFed Foundation, it is an honor to be selected for this award," said Gen. Nicholson, who was the longest-serving commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. "I have seen firsthand the powerful impact service dogs can have in the lives of a veterans and others with disabilities and I am proud to partner with a mission-driven organization like Canine Companions."
In October 2019, Gen. Nicholson became 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. Gen. Nicholson and his wife, Norine, traveled to the Canine Companions for Independence Northeast Training Center in Medford, N.Y., to receive a yellow Labrador and Golden Retriever cross named WestPoint. Video of the special moment can be viewed here.
WestPoint is spending a total of 18 months with Gen. Nicholson and the PenFed Foundation 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.
WestPoint joins five other Canine Companions assistance dogs in-training that have been welcomed into PenFed workplaces in Virginia and Nebraska. PenFed and the PenFed Foundation also donated $120,000 to Canine Companions and have covered all costs associated with raising the six dogs.
For the last 45 years, Canine Companions has been committed to providing highly trained dogs to children, adults, veterans, and professionals serving over 65 disabilities nationally with six 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.
Follow PenFed's future service dogs on the PenFed Pups Facebook group.
About PenFed Foundation
Founded in 2001, the PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization committed to empowering military service members, veterans and their communities with the skills and resources to realize financial stability and opportunity. 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, homeownership, veteran entrepreneurship and short-term 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. The credit union funds the Foundation's personnel and most operational costs, demonstrating its strong commitment to the programs the Foundation provides. 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 http://www.cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK.
SOURCE PenFed Foundation