Northwest Battle Buddies and the Transformative Power of Service Dogs in Veteran Travel

Shannon Walker's picture

Traveling has always been a powerful means of self-discovery and healing, and for Veterans, the journey to find solace and connection can be particularly transformative. Northwest Battle Buddies, which I founded, is at the forefront of providing Veterans with a unique companion on their journeys – professionally trained service dogs.

These dogs empower Veterans to travel with confidence, resulting in a profound impact on their lives.

Northwest Battle Buddies and the Transformative Power of Service Dogs in Veteran Travel

Empowering Veterans through Canine Companionship

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 20 Veterans commit suicide each day. Amidst this heart-wrenching reality, Northwest Battle Buddies has emerged as a beacon of hope for Veterans struggling with the invisible wounds of war.

My commitment to supporting Veterans stems from a deeply personal connection. Myr father, Glenn Walker, United States Air Force, Airman 2nd Class, taught me to love America and the men and women who served, fought, and died protecting this great Nation, and protecting the freedom that every American enjoys today. He inspired my passion for serving those who have served our nation and his experiences became the catalyst for my unwavering dedication to make a difference.

I recognized the profound impact that service dogs could have on Veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With this vision, I founded Northwest Battle Buddies to provide Veterans with specially trained service dogs, offering not just companionship, but a lifeline to navigate the challenges of daily life.

Northwest Battle Buddies and the Transformative Power of Service Dogs in Veteran Travel

The Profound Impact of Service Dogs

Many American Heroes return home to find their greatest battle still awaits as they battle Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the debilitating effects that often lead to thoughts of suicide. Service dogs make a difference. There is no cure for PTSD; however, with a canine Battle Buddy by their side, Veterans with PTSD can reduce their symptoms with life-changing results. These professionally trained dogs perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a chronic disability who cannot perform the work or task independently from him or herself and calm a person with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack. These actions by the service dog include waking their Veteran from nightmares, interrupting anxiety attacks, redirecting flashbacks, alerting on adrenaline, providing a social barrier in public, performing pressure therapy, and providing a constant feeling of safety. The service dogs spend 5+ months in intensive training, then are carefully matched with a Veteran handler for five more weeks of training and bonding, creating the ultimate partnership. Many service dogs are rescued from animal shelters. 

Navigating Travel Challenges

Traveling as a Veteran, particularly for those grappling with PTSD, can be a daunting prospect. The bustling crowds, unfamiliar environments, and potential triggers may hinder what should be a rejuvenating experience. Here is where the trained service dogs from Northwest Battle Buddies become invaluable allies. These dogs are adept at providing a calming influence, creating a protective buffer for their handlers, and offering a sense of stability in unfamiliar surroundings.

Northwest Battle Buddies and the Transformative Power of Service Dogs in Veteran Travel

Expert Tips for Veterans Traveling with Service Dogs

Plan Ahead
Veterans should meticulously plan their trips, considering the comfort and needs of their service dogs. This includes researching pet-friendly accommodations, transportation, and activities.

Know Your Rights
Familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations related to traveling with service dogs. Service dogs are legally allowed in most public spaces, including airports and hotels, but being aware of your rights ensures a smoother journey.

Create a Comfortable Space
Ensure your service dog has a comfortable space during travel. Familiar items, such as a blanket or toy, can provide a sense of security in new environments.

Practice Desensitization
Gradually expose your service dog to different travel-related scenarios to desensitize them. This includes practicing with different modes of transportation, crowds, and various environments.

Communicate with Service Providers
Inform airlines, hotels, and other service providers about your service dog in advance. Clear communication helps ensure that your needs and those of your service dog are accommodated.

By following expert tips and embracing the transformative power of service dogs, Veterans can reclaim the joy of travel and embark on a journey of rediscovery. Not only are service dogs steadfast companions, but they’re a pathway to renewed hope and self-discovery on the open road.

How the Public Can Help

Join Operation Never Quit (ONQ22) and pledge $22+ monthly to provide a professionally trained service dog to a veteran.
Additional volunteer options found at include Amazon Charity List, custom fundraisers, fostering a puppy, the Freedom Gala, memorials and registries, becoming a sponsor, requesting a speaker, and more.


Shannon Walker, Founder & CEO of Northwest Battle Buddies
Northwest Battle Buddies was founded to support veterans. They have been gifting professionally trained service dogs since 2012, with over 200 working teams. Visit for more information.