Paws and Stripes uses a unique approach to match veterans who enroll in the program with pre-screened dogs at kill shelters. The veterans are allowed to choose their dogs, at which point both go through a vigorous six-month program with an assigned trainer who is customized to the vet's specific needs.
While Lindsey functions as the CEO, James works as a spokesman and focuses on community awareness for the organization, which relies on no government funding, but fundraising, private donations and grants. The nonprofit also has a director of education, who oversees training, a mental health office staffed by social workers and trainers who go through a full certification process.
"Quality control is important and that's what we strive for," Lindsey Stanek said.
The nonprofit only had one graduate in its first year. They graduate their 25th veteran this year, and will also see their largest graduating class yet.
Although the Department of Veteran Affairs' cutting funding is a setback for the cause, Linsdey Stanek says Paws and Stripes will continue their work as a veterans' advocate.
"We're going to keep moving forward, hoping that the VA will open its eyes to this issue," she said. "More will need them [dogs] than can get them before anyone pays attention to providing this need."