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NEWS | Nov. 2, 2021

Recovering Soldiers Volunteer at Animal Rescue

ARLINGTON, Va. — Recovering Soldiers in Georgia got to spend some time with four-legged friends this August while volunteering at an animal rescue where they enjoyed walks, smiles and good fun.

Ariel Malphrus, recreation therapist at the Fort Stewart Soldier Recovery Unit, said that interacting with the dogs had a positive impact on the Soldiers.

"When the Soldiers got to walk the dogs they had the biggest smile on their face and several of them changed their posture,” Malphrus said. “They became confident and stood taller with their shoulders back. They were able to take control and it was a very empowering moment for some."

Chrystal Scott, physical therapy assistant at the Fort Stewart SRU, noted that this opportunity may pave the way for more down the road.

“One of the goals of the Adaptive Reconditioning Program is to introduce Soldiers to new hobby/leisure activities that they can continue with after their transition,” Scott said. “Volunteering at an animal shelter may not have been something they would have tried on their own, but now that they have, they may be more open to seeking out volunteer opportunities in their home community.”

Veterinarian and animal lover, Maj. Anna Schultz, described the outreach as something that is near and dear to her own heart. Her experience volunteering at the animal rescue was fun, but it was also more than that.

“It was a good opportunity to get out and interact with some community members,” Schultz said.

She recalled that the animals were as excited to see the Soldiers as they were to see the animals. While there, volunteers walked the dogs and helped with projects like sorting and arranging donations. Most interacted with the dogs, but some spent time with the rescue’s cats. There was one particular aspect of the volunteer experience that stood out as the best part for her.

“It’s good to get out into the community and see what people are doing and just introduce ourselves and find out where people may need help,” she said.

It can also be tough at times. Schultz noted one such instance when they said goodbye.

“It’s challenging to see animals without homes,” she said.

Schultz said that it’s intrinsically motivating to help homeless animals. She highly recommends volunteering and noted that the SRU offers a number of outreach opportunities.

“It’s a good feeling to do a little something for someone else,” she said.

The Army Warrior Care and Transition Program is now the Army Recovery Care Program. Although the name has changed, the mission remains the same: to provide quality complex case management to the Army's wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.