As a former Army Medic, DAV, American Legion member and dog lover, Sean believes the organization is the perfect way to combine two things he is very passionate about: Veterans and dogs. He looks forward to improving the quality of life for local Veterans and providing loving homes for dogs in need.
We presented the Pets for Vets program to top executives of Optum during an event held at the Terranea Resort. They donated the toys and supplies that compose our Welcome Package and designed a toy box that looks like a foot locker.
The box is shown to the left with David Harlen, his dog, Charley, and Clarissa Black, founder of Pets for Vets.
In addition to this box, five more will be created. We appreciated the opportunity to share our program and be part of their effort to give back.
BLOOMFIELD, Conn., December 02, 2013 – The founder of Pets for Vets, a non-profit organization that matches shelter pets to armed forces veterans and trains them to be companion animals, has won the Cigna GO YOU Award.
Clarissa Black, an animal trainer, founded Pets for Vets after she visited VA Long Beach Health Care System veteran’s health facility with her dog, Bear. She saw the positive effect a dog can have on veterans suffering from PTSD and other conditions. The organization now has 19 chapters in 17 states.
The GO YOU Award comes with a $50,000 Cigna Foundation grant for Pets for Vets. Black said she will use the money to form additional chapters in other states and to match more shelter pets to veterans.
“For us at Cigna, one of the best parts of the GO YOU Awards process has been connecting with individuals who’ve turned their personal passion into effective action. To know that Clarissa will now be using her GO YOU grant to transform that passion into better lives for even more of our veterans is especially exciting,” said David Figliuzzi, executive director of the Cigna Foundation.
Facebook users chose Black as the GO YOU Award winner via an online vote held November 4 to 11. She was one of four nominees for the award, all of whom previously received $20,000 Cigna Foundation grants for their charities. Black and Pets for Vets won handily with 70 percent of the Facebook vote.
When informed of the results, Black said, “Bringing our brave veterans together with some wonderful animals is reward enough, but it’s always energizing to know that people appreciate what Pets for Vets does. I want to thank everyone who voted, and to thank the other GO YOU Award nominees. We’re all in this for the same reason: helping others!”
The GO YOU Award honors the pioneering spirit of innovative individuals who create or build nonprofit organizations that contribute to personal, family and community health. The award is an extension of Cigna’s focus on encouraging people to be true to themselves and meeting their individual needs.
About Cigna and the Cigna Foundation
The Cigna Foundation is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) and its subsidiaries. The Cigna Foundation supports organizations sharing its commitment to enhancing the health of individuals and families, and the well-being of their communities, with a special focus on those communities where Cigna employees live and work. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit www.cigna.com
"You would think that a dog is just a dog. That may be true for some, but not me.I used to sit at home, alone, and just let life pass me by, but now I have a reason to get up. Even if it’s feeding Samson, or taking him for walks, he has motivated me to live again."
"He’s more than just a friend. He’s my battle buddy. He’s my left hand. We’re connected by a leash, but it’s really our umbilical cord. He’s sometimes more tuned into me than I’m tuned into me. He knows more about me than I do sometimes. He lets me know what’s going on."