Every year we celebrate Veterans Day on November 11 to honor the brave men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces, but we often forget about the four-legged warriors who accompany them into battle. Many Americans may not know, but every year on March 13 we celebrate K9 Veterans Day to honor the brave dogs who serve in the military as well.
Military working dogs have been involved in our armed forces for decades and have been deployed with our troops since as far back as the Vietnam War. They continue to be a vital part of our military to this day in the ongoing War on Terror.
The Department of Defense Military Working Dog Program is ran by the Air Force Security Forces Center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. They run, house and train the dogs when they first come into the program where Marines, Army, Navy and Air Force are all stationed to train the dogs before they head off to join the operating forces.
After going through about 80-120 days of training at Lackland Air Force Base, many of the K9s end up at Marine Corps Base Quantico, where SSgt. Andrew Kowtko serves as Kennel Master.
Once at Quantico, the training is constant and continues throughout each dog’s 7-8 years of service with the military. During that time many of the dogs are deployed with the armed forces, just as thousands of other soldiers, and risk their lives to protect the freedom of the United States.
Take a minute on this K9 Veterans Day to appreciate the sacrifice that the military working dogs give each and every day, just like the handlers who take care of them.