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.
In addition, our Valor Cup golfing program provides outdoor recreation free of charge to wounded and disabled veterans, many of whom rediscover the connection and camaraderie of military life for the first time since leaving the service. Outdoor group activities benefit veterans struggling with mental health.
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.
Sadly, Axel passed away in January 2023, but his legacy lives on through Leashes of Valor and Axel’s Place, our canine and warrior training facility. 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 now located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, about halfway between the state capital and Washington, D.C. Called Axel’s Place in honor of the service dog who inspired our organization, this 2,900-square-foot property is nestled on 10 secluded acres within a short drive of shopping centers, restaurants, and other businesses where veterans, typically in groups of two to four, get real-life training with their service dogs.
Axel’s Place is currently undergoing renovations as it prepares to host its first group of veterans in the coming months. We have an exclusive opportunity for support and recognition: sponsoring and naming a room or kennel at Axel’s Place. All contributions are tax deductible and support our mission providing service dogs at no cost to post-9/11 veterans.
Veterans who receive service dogs through our program spend seven 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.
Warrior Coordinator Sarah Woodfin enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1998. She went on active duty in 2001 and was part of the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. Sarah was medically retired after seven years of service, and in 2022 received her service dog, Justin, from Leashes of Valor, to help with symptoms of post-traumatic stress and military sexual trauma (MST). She lives in North Carolina with her three daughters.
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.
Lead K9 Trainer Karen Meadows love for dogs goes all the way back to childhood when, at age 5, she helped a neighbor train an unruly Black labrador named Shammy. In 1993, Karen began competing in obedience trials at American Kennel Club shows. Then, like so many of us, 9/11 changed the course of her life. Moved by the search and rescue dogs that descended on New York, Karen became an urban search and rescue K9 search specialist for FEMA, deploying to Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and other places in the aftermath of natural disasters. She has been with Leashes of Valor since October 2022 and as lead trainer oversees a team of part-time and volunteer dog trainers.