Service Dog Kimberly Commissioned
It was Kimberly’s special day, and the timing was perfect, with August 5 – 11 designated as International Assistance Dog Week.
Service dog Kimberly was officially commissioned into service to Veterans on Thursday, August 9, at the Salisbury VA. Kimberly is now the service dog for the Specialized Inpatient Posttraumatic Stress Treatment Program (SIPU). Christopher Watson, Ph.D., VHA-CM, Acting Coordinator, SIPU, administered the oath of service to Kimberly and Pam Spears, R.N. Ms. Spears, owner and handler, and Kimberly took the oath of service to Veterans during the graduation ceremony of the SIPU Class 123. Kimberly and Ms. Spears pledged to offer comfort and support to all Veterans and/or active duty service members, serve with compassion and integrity and to do their very best to serve with energy and zeal.
Kimberly is named in honor of U.S. Army Captain Kimberly Hampton, who was killed on January 2, 2004, when her OH-58 Kiowa Warrior observation helicopter was attacked near Fallujah, Iraq. Capt. Capt. Hampton is the first female combat pilot killed by enemy fire in the history of the U.S.
Capt. Hampton's mother, Ann Hampton attended the commissioning and commended the staff of the SIPU for their forward thinking in placing Kimberly in service to Veterans. To the Veterans graduating from the SIPU program, she said, “I thank you from all my heart for your service to our country.” Mrs. Hampton donated a copy of "Kimberly’s Flight," a book she co-authored about her daughter’s life and military service, to the SIPU.
Kimberly is not quite a year old, enjoys swimming in the neighborhood pond, and is already bringing comfort and touching the hearts of Veterans and staff in the unit.
Families and friends of the graduating Class 123 attended the ceremony. Also among those attending the ceremony was David Cantara, founder of Carolina Patriot Rovers, Inc., a non-profit organization that rescues, trains, and deploys psychiatric service dogs to Veterans free of charge. Mr. Cantara was praised by Debra Todd, social worker, for the service he provides to our Veterans.