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 as long as requested, and our grant program helps cover veterinary and other service dog-related expenses for veterans who cannot afford it.
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 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 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 ten 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 and will host its first group of veterans this spring. We have an exclusive opportunity for support and recognition: sponsoring and naming a room or kennel at Axel’s Place. Email email@example.com for details. 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 & Foster Coordinator Ashlee Chandler got involved with Leashes of Valor in 2020, volunteering at events and helping care for puppies in our program. As warrior coordinator, Ashlee works directly with our warrior applicants and graduates to help ensure successful pairings. As foster coordinator, she works with our fosters to ensure the needs of both our volunteers and the dogs in our program are met. Ashlee is the daughter of a retired Marine and lives in Spotsylvania County with her daughter.
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.