Since World War II, military working dogs have saved lives and given their lives and now they will be recognized with a national monument.
The U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument will be officially unveiled Monday at Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland, home to the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Program.
It’s the world's largest training center for military dogs and handlers and is also home to the largest veterinary hospital for military working dogs.
The founder and inspiration for the national monument is John C. Burnam, a highly decorated Vietnam Infantry Veteran Scout Dog Handler and author of “Dog Tags of Courage” and “A Soldier’s Best Friend.”
“As a Scout Dog handler in Vietnam I experienced firsthand how valuable these dogs are at saving soldiers’ lives,” said Burnam. “Yet, despite their value, when we pulled out of Vietnam the dogs were left behind. They were fellow soldiers and they were our best friends. They were heroes and they were left to die. So I was determined to get the dogs, of all wars, recognized at the highest level of our nation’s government and then build them a magnificent national monument to ensure they would never be forgotten again.”
The congressional legislation to establish the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument was sponsored by U.S. Representative Walter B. Jones, NC, and signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 28, 2008. The law was amended by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009, authorizing the John Burnam Monument Foundation to design, build and maintain the monument.
“As a nation we owe our war dogs a tremendous debt of gratitude,” said Burnam. “Their selfless service, loyalty and sacrifices to our country must never be forgotten. The U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument is a treasure for us all to ensure they are honored and remembered forever.”
The Monument was funded by corporate sponsors (Maddie's Fund, Natural Balance Pet Foods, Petco), veterans groups, dog groups, donations made by individuals, and funds raised through charitable events.