An estimated 22 veterans and one active duty commit suicide daily, and this number only includes the reported suicides. This staggering statistic inspired Krystle Eder and her husband Dave to start a non-profit organization to push for the awareness of veterans, and help them live independently and with dignity after returning home from combat with serious injuries such as Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). “We started our non-profit because we thought there was a need for more outreach for more veterans—human and canine,” says Krystle.
Krystle and Dave had a personal interest in raising money for veterans and canine veterans which lead them to start their non-profit organization VeRus for Veterans, in 2105. “Dave and I each have a grandfather who served in WWII, and we have a friend, Daniel Austin, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel of 30 years, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and came home with PTSD. We named our son Austin in honor of this amazing friend and war hero.
Krystle and Dave named their nonprofit organization VeRus for Veterans after their business, VeRus Pet Foods, a natural, holistic pet food company located in Abingdon, MD. Krystle, who is vice president of VeRus Pet Foods and president of VeRus for Veterans, explains that Verus is Latin for true, genuine, fair, and right; and she believes that in both their business and their non-profit, there is never a wrong way to do the right thing. “Verus for Veterans is a community collaboration,” says Krystle. “We are helping to support other organizations that help improve the lives of veterans. Many veterans don’t realize that there is help available and it’s okay to ask for help,” says Krystle.
“Our mission with VeRus for Veterans is to raise money for non-profits who train dogs to be therapy and service animals for wounded combat veterans. We also support the cost of travel for our Military War Dogs to return home and the cost of organizations finding homes for retired Military War Dogs,” says Krystle.
“I feel like everyone wants to make a difference. This is how I want to make a difference. I’m passionate about what I do. As Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to be in the world.”
Highlights of the VeRus for Veterans Community Fundraiser
Krystle’s excitement about this year’s fundraiser is palpable. “This year all funds raised will be donated to Hero Dogs. Our big event will be held on Saturday, November 5, 2016 at the Timonium Fairgrounds, and it will be way better than any other community event. We have Disc Dog Free Style Competition, where a dog catches a Frisbee to a music routine, or the K9 Weight Pulling contest, where a Great Dane once pulled 14,000 pounds! Businesses and services that support veterans will be there, like Pet Depot and Hands of Hope Positive Energy, and non- profits like Tales of Valor.” “We’re really excited to be supporting Hero Dogs this year,” boasts Krystle. “Hero Dogs is a non-profit corporation that trains service dogs and places them free of charge with our nation’s veterans to improve their quality of life and restore independence.”
According to Founder and Executive Director of Hero Dogs Jennifer Lund, “The total cost to raise, train, and place a Hero Dog with a Veteran is $39,500, and there is no charge to the veteran for either the dog or any associated training. Training takes about two and a half years.”
Krystle and Dave invite everyone to “come on out, have fun and support a good cause. All ages are welcome to attend this canine-friendly events so bring your own pets.” Activities to watch: • Disc Dog Free Style Competition • K9 Weight Pulling Competition • Scent and Search Activity • Training session by a service dog trainer • Hands on activities • Enter your dog in our canine costume contest • Make a Holiday card or letter of support for our military members abroad or veterans brought home • Bring food, hygiene products, entertainment, and handmade items to add to our care packs being sent to military that are deployed overseas • Purple Heart will be available to receive gently used items Hours: 10am-5pm Pre-registration fee: $5/family; $2/person At door: $10/family; $5/person All military are free.