Human InterestThe Examiner

Greeley High School Club Helps Brighten the Lives of Military Veterans

News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

We are part of The Trust Project
Air National Guardsman Tyler Prine, left, is handed his new Golden Retriever puppy after the nonprofit organization Guardian Revival presented the companion dog to him last Saturday in Chappaqua. With Prine is Rachel Hill, right, director of the organization’s Boots & Paws program, and Helping Our Heroes Club President and founder Ryan Schwartz, center, whose club members raised $5,000 to pay for the dog.

It’s taken less than two years for about 17 Horace Greeley High School students to make a significant difference in the lives of veterans and active servicemen and women.

Members of the school’s Helping Our Heroes Club recently raised $5,000 for Guardian Revival, a Dutchess and Putnam County-based nonprofit organization that runs various programs focused on improving the lives of service members, veterans and first responders.

The money raised by the club was specifically used to supply Air National Guardsman Tyler Prine, a nearly nine-year servicemember, with a Golden Retriever puppy through Guardian Revival’s Boots & Paw program. The program provides companion dogs and a support system to current and former members of the military.

“I have a tremendous appreciation for people who served our military, our veterans, our servicemen and women, and I wanted to help educate high school students and what it means to serve in the military, and why it’s essential to appreciate our military heroes,” said Greeley senior Ryan Schwartz, the president and founder of Helping Our Heroes. “And I also wanted to do it to express my gratitude to them and help them to get transitioned back into civilian life.”

Last Saturday, Schwartz and his fellow club members along with representatives from Guardian Revival presented Prine with a cream-colored retriever to take home in a brief ceremony at the gazebo in downtown Chappaqua.

Prine, a Poughkeepsie resident, said Guardian Revival came to Stewart Air Force in Newburgh, where he is stationed, last September to acquaint the servicemembers and their families about their programs.

Having a dog when growing up, he decided to submit an application for a companion dog for him and his wife. As of the ceremony last weekend, the couple was still faced with the task of naming the dog.

“I was very excited. I couldn’t wait,” Prine said after he learned that his application was accepted.

This was the 86th dog that the Boots & Paws program of Guardian Revival has awarded to a current or former servicemember in just under three years since the initiative was launched, said Rachel Hill, the director of the program. A companion dog differs than a service dog because there doesn’t have to be a diagnosis for someone to receive a dog, just proof that they currently or formerly served in the military or law enforcement, she said.

The $5,000 raised to fund each companion dog goes toward buying the puppy, having it professionally trained and to provide miscellaneous items to successful start off its owner, Hill said. Training support continues at several intervals for most of the first year, she said.

Young dogs, typically between eight and 16 weeks, are awarded to recipients so the canines can be trained and bond with their new owners, according to Hill. Golden retrievers, labs and German Sheperds are usually the breeds that Boots & Paws provides.

“The thing that makes our program different is there’s not an official mental health diagnosis” required to receive a dog, Hill said. “We’re trying to fight that stigma. The idea is that all of our guardians deal with some level of mental stress.”

Hill said Guardian Revival is also commissioning a study to examine the efficacy of companion dogs as opposed to service dogs because many servicemembers, veterans and first responders who could benefit from having a pet don’t qualify for a service animal.

Other Guardian Revival programs include outdoor adventures such as walking, hiking, backpacking and paddling; the Encore program, which provides music lessons and recording and performance opportunities; G-Connect, to help guardians to network with each other; and peer support services.

In the two academic years since Helping Our Heroes has formed it has also undertaken a few other efforts, including building shelves and providing books to veterans’ facilities to promote reading and preserving stories of active military members and veterans through interviews, Schwartz said.

The club has organized for later this spring a 22-mile run to raise money for veterans’ mental health since 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S., he said.

“I’m proud of all the hard work that went into this,” Schwartz said of working with Guardian Revival. “We had a number of fundraisers over the past year to raise the $5,000 and I’m super proud of the hard work of everyone out there.”

For more information about Guardian Revival, visit


We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.