KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Dogs who have served in the U.S. military were honored with a memorial dog walk in Knoxville Sunday.
The Veterans Heritage Site Foundation held its third annual War Dog Memorial March on the Pellissippi State Community College campus. Dog owners were encouraged to bring their pet to take part in the one-mile walk.
Ralph Martin is a Vietnam War veteran who attended the walk. He said dogs have played a big role in the military over the years.
“They have saved many American lives, even from Vietnam all the way through Afghanistan, they’ll alert to explosives, booby traps and other troops that are trying to attack. They’re just amazing, their extra senses of smell, their eyesight,” he explained.
Martin’s also been supported by four-legged-friends after the war. His service dog Luna has helped him manage his disability for the past five years.
“She’s got my back, that’s the biggest thing, if someone tried to sneak up behind me right now she would alert me, that’s the biggest thing that she does,” he said. “She’s a home security system, I sleep better at night, she sleeps on top of me so I can just relax and sleep without any problem.”
The memorial dog walk was held at Pellissippi State for the third year, and president of the college, Anthony Wise, said they help out with events to support veterans in the community.
“We’re here because Pellissippi State likes to support veterans on campus and off campus, and so it’s a way for us to connect with the Veteran Heritage Site Foundation here in Knoxville and provide support for them,” Wise said.
Martin said service dogs can help veterans in many different ways.
“It makes a big difference especially with PTSD, the guys I know with PTSD, it gives them a sense of safety. They’re actually a great security system, which for a person who’s paranoid, it takes that part of it away from them, and plus they also detect the illnesses that you have if you’ve got diabetes or any other type of physical disability,” Martin said.
Proceeds from the event are going toward building a Military Working Dog Heritage Museum.