Guest Blog from Lisa Phillips, Founder and CEO of the Retired Military Working Dog Assistance Organization
Independence Day is one of America’s most celebrated holidays. It is a day to reflect on America's freedom and the wars that were fought, and are still being fought, to keep us free. Many remember our two-legged heroes, but few realize that there are also four-legged heroes who have fought and died for America.
My name is Lisa Phillips, and I was a vet tech in the Army, taking care of our nation's Military Working Dogs (MWDs). During five years of active duty, my passion and love for these animals grew. I saw firsthand the key roles these loyal and dedicated heroes play in keeping America safe. When I was in the process of being medically discharged in 2005, I adopted my first MWD from Lackland AFB: Gizmo A085. I was his vet tech for the previous two years. In 2007, I was able to adopt MWD Bianca W229, also from Lackland.
MWDs are currently classified as equipment by the military. Equipment doesn’t breathe or bleed; dogs are living breathing creatures, not equipment. When their service to our country is completed, they are considered excess equipment and our country's responsibility for them ends. My love for these heroes is what kept me going on my mission to reclassify them and get help with their medical expenses and final transportation after they are retired.
U.S. Representative Walter Jones of (R-NC) and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced in Congress the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act. This bill has bicameral and bipartisan support to reclassify our MWDs as "canine members of the armed forces" instead of equipment, provide financial help with medical bills after they retire via a non-profit, provide final transportation via donated frequent flyer miles, and decoration or other appropriate recognition to recognize particularly meritorious and courageous military working dogs.
On this Independence Day you can help our MWDs win their independence from being classified the same as a table, a chair or a computer and contact your two U.S. Senators and ask them to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act.