How K9s for Warriors and service dog Rio saved this veteran's life

By Shannon Sweeney — / Death Wish Coffee Blog

Meet Will Rommel, a US Army veteran, and his service dog Rio

Will Rommel credits K9s for Warriors and 2-year-old Rio, a great dane and black lab mix, with saving his life. 


Will and Rio pictured above. Photos in this post courtesy of K9s for Warriors.

Rommel and Rio met in 2018 through K9s for Warriors, a nonprofit organization that provides service dogs to veterans suffering from the invisible wounds of war, including PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and military sexual trauma, as a result of military service post 9/11. Since Rio and Will met last year, they've been inseparable. Rio helps him control anxiety attacks and more, and goes with Will wherever he goes.

"The first time we met, he came running up to me," Rommel said, fighting back tears. "He already knew I was anxious. He came right up to me and put his paws on my chest. We haven't been separated since." 

Rommel served in the United States Army for 17 years. He originally heard about K9s for Warriors after attending a 22K Ruck March for suicide awareness. One of the participants there had a service dog — so Rommel decided to ask about it. The answer? The veteran had received a service dog through K9s for Warriors. 

After looking the organization up and contemplating it, Rommel finally decided to apply to the program and was accepted to the program. In May 2018, Rommel graduated the program with Rio after training with K9s for Warriors in Florida for three weeks. The pair will return this year for recertification.

Rommel still keeps in touch with K9s for Warriors and offers to help in any way he can with events. After all, he said, K9s for Warriors holds a special place in his heart. 

"They saved my life. They saved my marriage. I can't say enough good things," Rommel said. "They changed my life and made the impossible, possible."

Related: More about K9s for Warriors and our Memorial Day Mug

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