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For first time in PGA TOUR history, veteran & service canine walk inside the ropes, thanks to Stryker & AT&T Byron Nelson

May 17, 2018



U.S. Air Force veteran LaWanna Viers and her service canine, Corey, today became the first veteran-canine team to walk inside the ropes with professional golfers as an honorary observer, thanks to Stryker and AT&T Byron Nelson.

Stryker held a military appreciation ceremony where Viers discussed how her service dog helps her overcome the lasting effects of military-related trauma. She was joined by James “Tuan” Knight, General Manager of Stryker’s North Texas branch. Knight presented a Stryker vest and $20,000 donation for the sponsorship of a service dog to Rory Diamond, Chief Executive Officer of K9s For Warriors. Viers served as an honorary observer following the event.

A moment can change one’s life forever, which is something that Viers knows firsthand. During her 25 years in the U.S. Air Force, including a deployment to Iraq, Viers suffered damage to her spinal cord, as well as injuries to both knees and feet that left her with a limp and needing a cane to walk. She also returned home with PTSD, which affected every aspect of her family life until she met Corey. That day two lives were transformed thanks to K9s For Warriors, a nonprofit organization that rescues and trains service dogs, then matches them with veterans living with TBI or other trauma as a result of military service post-9/11. Viers says Corey saved her life and continues to provide her support through the recovery process.

The risk of suicide for veterans is 21 percent higher when compared to civilian adults and in 2014, 20 veterans died from suicide every day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Stryker announced its partnership with K9s For Warriors in 2016, pledging to sponsor service canines as part of its PGA TOUR program, as well as make a donation for every Stryker hat purchased – the same style hat worn by PGA TOUR Champion Fred Funk on tour.

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