On Jan. 19, Swim With A Mission (SWAM) presented Hero Pups with a check for $75,000 to help train and match support dogs with veterans in the Granite State.

Hero Pups is a New Hampshire nonprofit that pairs trained support dogs with veterans who have been diagnosed with service- related psychological challenges.

Laura Barker founded the organization in 2016 after her son was wounded in Afghanistan. Hero Pups is 100% volunteer-run with no paid staff. Trained support dogs are provided to eligible recipients free of charge. To date, 174 dogs have been successfully paired with eligible recipients.

During the check presentation, Hero Pup recipient Brandon Clark discussed his struggles with mental health after transitioning out of the military. He was in a very dark place and finally reached out for help. He told us that his Hero Pup, Bobby, saved his life.

The demand for dogs is growing fast, with the waiting list of recipients requesting dogs growing longer each month. Eligible recipients include veterans and first responders diagnosed with post- traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and other service-related mental health challenges.

The support dogs facilitate the recipients’ recovery by allowing them to regain confidence, independence, and purpose as well as alleviate some of the symptoms of their mental health challenges.

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