Dear Partner Members & friends,
First, I want to wish everyone and their families a wonderful holiday season for 2019! Now is the best time of year to reflect on family, on our values, and the things in life for which we are most grateful. Second, I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to make the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans successful in 2019. We have experienced some essential changes as we close out this year, and I want to take some time to reflect on our accomplishments in 2019 and what we hope to accomplish this next year in 2020.
Some of our accomplishments for 2019 include:
* Formed a Standards Committee to review the Association’s National Standards. Also, they are in the process of creating policies and certification procedures to help our member organizations better serve warriors.
* Hosted 3rd Annual National Service Dog Conference in Washington D.C. with over 100 attendees and 20 conference speakers.
* Member organizations participated in a Hill Day at the Capitol to educate over 22 members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee on the importance of H.R. 3101 the PAWS Act. Passage of this law will help revolutionize the service dog industry and help service dog organizations that adhere to a national standard better serve the needs of our veterans.
* Developed and rolled out a National Service Dog Survey to capture data points from partner members and other influencers in the service dog industry for veterans. The survey seeks to capture data on service dog organizations, veteran service information, and service dog details. The objective is to better understand the veteran service dog industry for educational and advocacy purposes.
* Continued to attract quality organizations that are committed to providing service dogs to our country’s military veterans. We have welcomed four new member organizations over this past year from Montana, California, and Virginia. Our recently restructured membership committee has received approximately fifty new applications for membership. A new membership application and evaluation process to accept new members is being developed.
On a personal note, I had the opportunity of visiting four member organizations to conduct in-person site visits these past eight months. Since assuming the role of Executive Director this past May, I made it a personal goal to visit each of our partner member’s campuses. It was an honor and privilege to be able to visit with our member organizations and experience the great work that they are doing in person. I look forward to continuing visiting more of our member organizations in person in 2020.
These accomplishments reflect the hard work and commitment of our member organizations and have set the tone for what we seek to accomplish in 2020.
Some of our plans and goals for 2020 include:
* The Conference Committee has identified the dates and location for the 2020 National Service Dogs for Veterans in Northern Virginia from July 20-24, 2020. Conference activities include an awards dinner with a keynote speaker for the presentation of the Leash of Leadership Award and a vendor showcase.
* Grow the Association and increase its influence by attracting the highest quality of member organizations as partners.
* Creating opportunities for the Association to increase membership benefits to partner members and organizations.
* Continuing to focus on enhancing the financial stability of the Association through Conference sponsorships and gift-giving.
In closing, I believe that our Association can and will achieve great things in shaping the service dog industry to the benefit of our veterans in 2020. Our Fourth year of existence will be our most important one yet. Let’s together accept the challenge by staying focused on our mission, disciplined in our execution, and always in service.
Jeremiah R. Blocker