Leashes of Valor is a national nonprofit that provides highly-trained service dogs to post-9/11 veterans to help with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or military sexual trauma (MST), an underlying trauma to PTSD. Whenever possible, we source dogs from animal shelters and rescue organizations. Our goal is to enrich and improve the lives of both veterans and dogs: one leash saves two lives. Follow-up communication with our veterans continues for life, and we provide lifetime care for our service dogs. This level of dedication is how we are setting a new standard for excellence in the world of service dogs.
Leashes of Valor is a national non-profit founded by veterans, for veterans. After years of struggling with debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) related to three combat deployments, retired Marine Corps Capt. Jason Haag ultimately sought out a service dog.
Jason had tried multiple treatments–drug therapies, outpatient clinics, outdoor therapy, and even an intensive, 30-day stay for Veterans with PTSD. But he credits a German shepherd named Axel for saving his life. Jason was paired with his service dog in 2012, and the two spent years traveling around the U.S. educating the public and policymakers on the benefits of psychological service dogs.
Axel, who turned 14 this year, has since retired. As founder and CEO of Leashes of Valor, Jason has expanded his mission to help provide service dogs at no cost to wounded and disabled post-9/11 Veterans so that they, too, can experience the life-changing and lifesaving benefits that he has enjoyed.
Leashes of Valor is located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, about halfway between the state capital and Washington, D.C. Veterans who receive service dogs through our program spend 10 days living and training with us. Thanks to the generosity of donors, this is all at no cost to our Veterans.
CEO and co-founder Jason Haag spent 13 years in the Marine Corps before retiring as a Captain. He credits his service dog, Axel, for saving his life from PTSD after a machine gun injury sustained in an Iraqi combat mission. Featured on more than 50 news outlets, Haag tours the country educating policymakers, Warrior organizations and Warriors on the benefits of service dogs for veterans.
Lead Canine Trainer Brian Umbach retired from the Air Force in 2012 after 20 years of service. He spent most of his career as a military working dog handler, trainer and trainer supervisor. In 2004, he started training dogs for friends and friends of friends and attended the PetTech Instructor Course. Since his retirement from the Air Force, Brian has channeled his love for animals into dog training and teaching animal first aid.
Warrior and Foster Coordinator Shawn Betzing served six and a half years on active duty in the U.S. Army as a veterinary technician for the Military Working Dogs program. While on active duty, she met and later married her husband, who is an active-duty Marine. They have two beautiful girls, three cats and a dog. Shawn has always had a love for animals. At Leashes of Valor, she gets to combine the passion she has for her fellow brothers and sisters with her love of dogs.
Director of Programs Chris Bowers enlisted in the Marine Corps in September 2003. He was injured in Iraq in 2008, which resulted in the amputation of his left leg, a severely injured back, and a traumatic brain injury (TBI). After years of physical rehabilitation and countless surgeries and procedures, Chris retired from the United States Marine Corps in November 2012.
The game of golf was key to Chris’ recovery. Having never played the game, Chris was eager to learn and grow both physically and mentally. His golfing journey led him to sit on two boards of directors for national nonprofits, in an effort to help as many brothers and sisters as he could. Chris found his home with Leashes of Valor in 2021, and now serves as Programs Director and the Valor Cup Tournament Director.