Retired U.S. Marine Cpl. Josh Donaldson received his long-awaited service dog during a brief ceremony Tuesday morning at The Dog Spot in Ellabell.
The Iraq War veteran has suffered with stress and anxiety since leaving the military in 2013. Now, he is getting help coping with the scars of war from a specially trained black Labrador retriever named Abram.
Donaldson, along with his wife, Kaila, and daughter, Laila, welcomed the family’s new canine companion thanks to the efforts and generosity of the SD Gunner Fund and its supporters.
The nonprofit agency assists veterans and disabled children with the financial aspects of obtaining and owning service animals.
SD Gunner Fund was started in 2014 by Britnee Kinard, who began caring full-time for her husband, retired U.S. Army Sgt. Hamilton Kinard, as he grappled with post-traumatic stress disorder and recovered from physical wounds sustained during an explosion in Iraq.
Through a series of events, Britnee Kinard of Claxton grew frustrated with a system that failed to meet the needs of her husband, a Purple Heart recipient and father to two boys, one of whom has autism.
As she navigated the overwhelming process of obtaining the aid for her husband, Kinard began to develop a reputation as an advocate for those who face the challenge of collecting certain benefits. As the requests for help became more frequent, Kinard sprang into action.
After working 18 months to get Hamilton Kinard’s service dog, Gunner — for whom the nonprofit agency is named — Britnee Kindard began her quest to help other veterans and children in need, ensuring they would never wage the battle alone.
“Each time we’re able to pair a service dog with a veteran in need, the feelings of gratitude and accomplishment are amazing,” Britnee Kinard said. “SD Gunner Fund is thrilled to be able to help Josh Donaldson and his family. We know Josh and SD Abram will be a wonderful match.”
Donations to SD Gunner Fund are tax-deductible.
For more information on the nonprofit, which depends on donations from financial supporters to continue its mission, go to www.sdgunnerfund.com.