Suzanne Stuller/ The Towerlight
By: Suzanne Stuller, Staff Writer
The Military and Veterans Center and Student Affairs excited Towson students by inviting a service dog to the Psychology Building on Oct 1.
Lily, the German Shepherd service dog at the event, was trained by Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs Inc., a national non-profit organization based in Williston, Florida.
“We don’t have any of our dogs in Maryland and we wanted to get the word out of what we do, who we are, and how we can help veterans,” said Joanne Werner, a dog trainer for Guardian Angels.
Werner works mostly in the Pittsburgh region, where she helps spread the word about Guardian Angels at local events. She also works personally with recipients of a Guardian Angel service dog to train their dogs.
Lily, the service dog, currently aids a military veteran who struggles with night terrors.
“This veteran is on a lot of medication, so he needs to be woken up sometimes, or else he’ll just sleep through the day,” said Werner. “She’ll make sure he’s up. He has diabetes so she alerts him when he has high or low blood sugar. And for years, before he got her, he wouldn’t go out in public, but she gives him the strength to go out.”
Pizza was offered from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Large groups of students entered the Military Center eager to enjoy the food and to meet Lily.
“This has been the most people I’ve seen in our center before,” said Jordan Apollo, a senior at Towson. “If we do this same thing next semester around the same time, I believe there will be a lot more people.”
Dario DiBattista, the director at the Military and Veteran Center, believes this event is a great opportunity to increase awareness about the Veteran Center on campus.
“From what I’ve heard, people think of the student veterans on campus as being kind of tribal,” said DiBattista. “I’ve talked to people such as friends who work here, and professors, who were unaware there even was a Military and Veterans Center. I thought this was a great way to amplify its existence, create an ambassadorial, good will experience, and open it up for everyone to come through.”
DiBattista thought the “Puppies and Pizza” ads would help encourage students to come to the event.
“My friend sent me a flyer about this event,” said Dahra Weiss, a freshman at Towson. “I saw there were dogs and pizza, and I really miss my dog at home. When people see this flyer they want to come and learn more. This will get them more involved on campus.”
The Military and Veterans Center hopes to do this event next year to raise more awareness about their purpose on campus. After seeing more engagement this week, they hope to get even more students to come next year.
You can visit Towson’s webpage to learn more about student veterans and upcoming events at the Military and Veteran Center at https://www.towson.edu/veterans.