Falcons’ Hayden Hurst challenges others to support veterans

(Photo: Danny Karnik / Associated Press)

Ahead of the National Veterans Day Celebration on Thursday, November 11eAtlanta Falcon Hayden Hurst wants to use this as a call to action for everyone who cares about America’s at-risk veterans – and the thousands of people hurt by the grief of an untreated mental health diagnosis, too – To join him in saving lives.

Recently, Hurst, the Atlanta Falcons tight end and a growing national voice in the mental health treatment, awareness and advocacy community, pledged $ 20,000 through the Hayden Hurst Family. Foundation to cover the costs of training a qualified service dog to help people with mental, emotional and psychological challenges for a deserving veteran currently on the waiting list of the Top Dogg K9 Foundation, an organization in Atlanta-based nonprofit. “If I can share my story to raise awareness and help people with mental health issues and save a life from suicide, I want to do it. It is important that we stop avoiding the conversations about mental illness, suicide, especially among our young people and our veterans, that we lose every day in America at a staggering rate to suicide. It’s time to take action. “

Hurst wants this donation to be a challenge for the community, something the Top Dogg K9 Foundation has called “The Hayden Hurst Double Down Dog Challenge » a call to action to match his donation by November 22, 2021, on Veterans Day. The dog that the organization will affectionately name Hayden has yet to be identified, but they want the public to know that there are plenty of dogs out there ready to be named in honor of other generous donors like Hurst.

The Top Dogg K9 Foundation (TDK9) supports veterans with highly trained service dogs with the ultimate goal of reducing the number of military families affected by suicide due to mental illness each year. TDK9 is based on the premise that “Veterans Deserve Exceptional Generosity and Service” and their signature program, VDOGS, supports this principle by rescuing, training and matching suitable dogs with disabled veterans struggling with health issues. post-deployment mental health such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, head trauma, night terrors and other “invisible” scars have men and women who put them at a disproportionate risk of committing suicide. TDK9 also provides referrals for other support and social services, canine therapy workshops as well as networking opportunities for veterans with veterans. These life-changing services are free for the Veterans who benefit from them.

Top Dogg K9 depends on community donations to cover the high costs of boarding, feeding, training and deploying a canine service dog as a complete and reliable solution to meet the unique needs of every veteran. “We are encouraged to see that after nearly 20 years of medical research documenting that assistance dogs save lives, the current administration eventually passed the PAWS Act, requiring the veterans administration to cover the costs of assistance dogs not only for physical disabilities, but also for the multiple emotional and psychological diagnoses resulting from military service. But the time between the enactment of the legislation and the funds actually available for training veterinary dogs will not happen overnight. Champions like Hayden Hurst are the way we can make sure that the vets who are suffering the most right now can be helped as soon as possible, ”said Rashad.

“We can thank former Falcon and NFL veteran’s greatest advocate, Ben Garland, for introducing Hayden to the Top Dogg K9 Foundation,” said Blake Rashad, TDK9 Founder and US Army Veteran . “Ben is always looking to get involved in veterans initiatives, engaging Hayden to get involved in our Dog Walk For Mental Health, an event held annually in May to raise funds and educate veterans in need of assistance dogs. “Hayden just understands. He is open and shares the struggles he has had, understands what others are going through and is fully involved with his heart and soul, ”Rashad shared.

Hayden Hurst didn’t hesitate to step in when Garland reached out last year to get involved with Top Dogg. Hurst, 28, was no stranger to mental health issues. Now in his third year with the Falcons, he is deeply rooted in supporting the local community and known for his outspoken sharing of his own struggles with depression and anxiety, opening the door for countless young people. , especially adolescents, to feel safe when seeking help. Hurst says he handled his struggles privately, trying to cope without medical or family support until he reached the point of attempting suicide – the turning point of realizing he couldn’t there face it alone. Since then, he has made it his mission to target young people, especially adolescents who need support and help to cope with the traumas and pressures of life without it becoming unmanageable. He created his family foundation in 2018 to focus on mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

The Top Dogg K9 Foundation is organizing an open day on Saturday, November 13e 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for those interested in learning more about the organization, volunteer opportunities and the value of assistance dogs to those in need. Space is limited, please contact the TDK9 Foundation in advance to confirm attendance at [email protected]

The Top Dogg K9 Foundation is a 501 © 3 charity founded in 2011, IRS ID # 46-2114737. Its mission is to reduce the number of military families affected by suicide due to mental illness each year. They are located at 4776 Stone Mountain Highway, Lilburn, GA 30047. For more information on the Top Dogg K9 Foundation and how to support veterans, visit www.topdoggk9.org.

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