Swanton observes Memorial Day


By Drew Stambaugh - [email protected]



The American Legion float travels down Church Street during the parade.

The American Legion float travels down Church Street during the parade.


The Swanton High School band performs in the Swanton Memorial Day parade.


Local veterans are sheltered by a tent at the Memorial Day observance in Swanton.


Chrissy Faulkner and Kenny Bass, with Atlas by his side, speak at the Swanton Memorial Day observance.


A three-volley salute is performed during the Memorial Day observance at Swanton Memorial Park.


Swanton’s annual Memorial Day observance not only honored those who made the ultimate sacrifice but also shed light on the issues that some veterans face after coming home. Following a parade, guest speakers from The Battle Buddy Foundation – Kenny Bass, co-founder and executive director and Chrissy Faulkner, deputy executive director – stepped to the podium.

“We are extremely honored to be here with you on Memorial Day, and be able to recognize the sacrifices or our fallen brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and friends that we’ve all lost,” said Faulkner.

The Battle Buddy Foundation exists to help those men and women who make it home reintegrate into civilian life, she said. That can include providing service dogs to veterans. In fact, Atlas, the service dog for Bass, joined the speakers at the podium.

Bass, a Marine Corps combat veteran, served in Iraq in 2003. While there, he was hit with a roadside bomb.

“When I got back, I got out of the Marine Corps in 2004 and got into the VA (Veterans Affairs) system,” said Bass.

“Unfortunately for me, and a lot of the other veterans that go that route, after about five years, I was swallowing about 33 pills a day, that I was being prescribed. Needless to say my quality of life was not much better, actually it was much worse.”

He said after a couple years he was able to get off the medications and his VA counselor asked him what he thought of a service dog.

“To be honest, I said ‘A dog? What’s a dog going to do for me that I can’t do for myself?’ Of course, I had never met Atlas. I had no idea how amazing these service dogs can be.”

Bass began the process of finding a service dog, only to be told it would likely cost between $10,000 and $60,000.

“It became very obvious to me that there needed to be an organization that was founded by veterans to serve veterans, and that was doing this for the right reasons,” said Bass.

With that idea, The Battle Buddy Foundation was born. The foundation works to provide service dogs at no cost to veterans.

A VA study showed that 22 veterans take their lives each day, and Faulker said that number could be higher, with as many as 44-50 veterans taking their lives each day. “We step in and we offer them another option,” she said.

At a cost of $25,000 for the service dog’s training, without donations from groups such as the Swanton American Legion, Legion Auxiliary, and Legion Riders, they would not be able to help the veterans, Faulkner added.

The Legion has planned a fundraising event on Aug. 27 with the hope of sponsoring a service dog for a veteran. “I hope that everyone can come out, and kind of see what we do,” said Faulkner.

The American Legion float travels down Church Street during the parade.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2016/06/web1_Legion-Float-Memorial-Day-1.jpgThe American Legion float travels down Church Street during the parade.

The Swanton High School band performs in the Swanton Memorial Day parade.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2016/06/web1_SHS-band-Parade-MD-1.jpgThe Swanton High School band performs in the Swanton Memorial Day parade.

Local veterans are sheltered by a tent at the Memorial Day observance in Swanton.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2016/06/web1_Local-Vets-1.jpgLocal veterans are sheltered by a tent at the Memorial Day observance in Swanton.

Chrissy Faulkner and Kenny Bass, with Atlas by his side, speak at the Swanton Memorial Day observance.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2016/06/web1_Memorial-Day-speakers-1.jpgChrissy Faulkner and Kenny Bass, with Atlas by his side, speak at the Swanton Memorial Day observance.

A three-volley salute is performed during the Memorial Day observance at Swanton Memorial Park.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2016/06/web1_21-gun-salute-Swanton-1.jpgA three-volley salute is performed during the Memorial Day observance at Swanton Memorial Park.

By Drew Stambaugh

[email protected]

Drew Stambaugh can be reached at 419-335-2010 or on Twitter @Swan_Enterprise

Drew Stambaugh can be reached at 419-335-2010 or on Twitter @Swan_Enterprise