U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Espinoza and his dog Jimmy.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Espinoza, assigned to the 3rd of the 25th Infantry Division K9 Unit and the 96th Security Forces Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., relaxes outside with his dog Jimmy, during a mission with the Iraqi soldiers and Iraqi Police, to deliver humanitarian aid to children at an orphanage in Hawija, Iraq, Sept. 17, 2009. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Canaan Radcliffe/ Released)

This past week the non-profit Companions For Heroes began operations. Companions For Heroes is a service that pairs veterans being treated at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center with dogs and cats from the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL). Companions For Heroes provides veterans with transportation to WARL to pick out their new friend, waives the $195 adoption fee, provides transportation for weekly visits to WARL so veterans can visit their new pet, and transports the pet to the veteran’s home (anywhere in the country) free of charge after the veteran leaves Walter Reed.

Companions For Heroes was founded by Dave Sharpe, himself a veteran, whose dog Cheyenne greatly aided his transition to civilian life.

Along with fellow combat veterans who constitute the C4H Board of Directors, Dave wanted to reach out to his fellow brothers and sisters and their families who serve(d) our nation in the military, law enforcement, and emergency personnel professions. In doing so, Dave also wanted to help save our homeless animals and saw the therapeutic potential of the unique bond of love, comfort, and support that could aid both the veteran and homeless pet. - Founder Dave Sharpe

You can find out more about Companions For Heroes at www.companionsforheroes.org. Also be sure to check out photos of Companions For Heroes’ first match, Sergeant First Class Richard Waugaman and Ernie!

- The Warrior Gateway Project Blog (www.warriorgateway.org/blog), October 7, 2009