Name a Service Puppy, Honor a Service Member


Parents, spouses and friends of fallen troops often tell me that their biggest fear is that their loved one will be forgotten. There is something powerful about just saying their names, about just pausing to remember, and they fear people will eventually stop doing that.

One organization that serves veterans and wounded warriors through both training service dogs and placing them in permanent homes remembers service members in a unique way — by naming puppies after them.

We told you recently about Warrior Canine Connection (WCC). While there are plenty of organizations that work to give dogs to service members as service animals, WCC is unique because they also help veterans dealing with PTSD through the process of puppy training. You can read all about it over here.

But here’s where it gets really cool: the puppies are all named after service members through a name nomination process. And while families and friends are welcome to nominate current troops as well, many of them are named in memorium for the fallen.

Puppies, mom and a human handler spend time snuggling as seen in this puppy cam live feed capture.

Puppies, mom and a human handler spend time snuggling as seen in this puppy cam live feed capture.

One such pup is Casey. Named after former Marine and paralympian marathoner and skier Casey Owens, WCC officials took the dog to Casey’s internment at Arlington National Cemetery early this year. Casey  had committed suicide after a long struggle with PTSD, and a friend had nominated him to have a pup named after him.

“We had his mom and sister ask us to bring the pup down to the internment ceremony,” said Rick Youst, WCC’s executive director. “As the family put it, it was very healing and life associated with such a tragedy.”

Youst said he has been asked why the organization doesnt offer to name puppies after corporations as a sponsoring gimmick.

“They say ‘if you named the dogs after corporations you’d get a lot of donations,'” he said. “But there are things money can’t buy, and [naming them after troops] is certainly the right thing to do.”

While WCC is glad to see any name nominations, they are particularly in need of female service members to honor, officials said, since about half the puppies are female.

If you are interested in nominating a service member to have a puppy named after him or her, you can go here to the WCC site and fill out the linked form.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • AmyVR

    I volunteer with another organization, Southeastern Guide Dogs, as a Puppy Raiser. I am currently raising a puppy, named Bria, who is a part of our Paws for Patriots program. She is 6 months old and is named for Army SPC Brittany “Bria” Gordon who was killed in A’stan in 2012. My Bria pup has her own FB page which you can find by searching for “Raising Bria.” She is such a good girl and I am honored to be raising her.

  • Stephen

    Name one pup “Mike” in honor of my brother-in-law SP4 David Michael “Mike” Mabery, KIA Feb. 5, 1968, Dalat, Vietnam. At the time of his death, Mike had a 5 month old son he never got to see. My sister was notified of his death on Feb. 7,1968, their first wedding anniversary. Mike, a great name for a service dog in honor of a really great guy.



  • andrea

    Please name a puppy after my father, John Van Sickle…or “VAN”. The Navy was my father’s life and he loved dogs. My father was the most honorable man I have ever known .I learned about truth and ethics and morals and all sorts of things from him. What He really deserves a puppy named after him for was the fact that even tho his life was all about protecting our country, he loved my mom unconditionally for over 73 years. A military family sacrifices also. But through it all they stayed together and supported each other unconditionally. So please name the puppy after my mother, the true veteran: GEORGIE. And I am a veteran also. My name is Andrea ,or “ANDY ”

  • Victor M. alarcon

    Name a puppy after my name. Honor me while I am alive and able to savor the taste of Honor, while I am able shed tears for the Honor, while I am able to see a picture of my namesake. I am Victor M. Alarcon, Major U.S. Army Medical Corp (retired). I served my country in Desert Storm and as a result of Gulf War Syndrome and exposure to Environmental Contaminents as the Department of Defense states; my health has deteriorated to the point I am 100% Service Connected. I believe that we must learn to honor the living, that they taste the unequaled gift of Thanks by A Greatful Nation, once I have passed my family will cry to the sounds of taps to another soldier. A soldier unable to hear his own Taps!

  • J C Manning

    Please name a puppy after my father Mitchel Lucious Manning, Navy WW II.

  • L M Rosado

    Airman First Class Elizabeth Nicole Jacobson is the first female Airman and the first Security Forces Airman to be killed in the line of duty supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. KIA 28 Sep, 2005.

  • Krafty

    Please name a puppy “Nick” in memory of my teammate who we lost to sniper fire in Kunar Province in April 2013.

  • Maggie Wilson

    How about Marie Rossi who lost her life during Desert Storm. She was an Army helicopter pilot.
    Also why not name some of the girl puppies after the Directors of the WAC, WAVES, etc. from WWII?
    Wilma is another name I would submit for General Wilma Vaught, the current Director of the Women In Military Service to America Memorial. She is a wonderful role model for all women veterans and service members.

    • CombatSurgeon

      Yes, I agree. We must honor the memory of this Great American Soldier. She gave her life serving our nation.

    • WCCJamie

      Hello, Maggie…Wilma Vaught already has a namesake! Wilma was born on Thanksgiving Day, 2014 and is currently in service dog training. You can follow her adventures at Warrior Canine Connection’s “The Gratitude Litter” page on Facebook.

  • hollie

    Please look up Puppies Behind Bars and check out the way the provide service animals to Veterans AT NO COST TO THEM!!!!!!! Have been involved with PBB since 2000. My husband and I cannot speak highly enough of this organization. Please look here before you go to any other sites.

  • osburnltd

    Please name a pup for Steve, a Navy CT who was shot down off the coast of North Korea in 1968 in an unarmed EC-121 (for Pres. Park’s birthday, may he be judged by his life of injustices). Steve was a great all around guy, hailed from Upper Sandusky, Ohio, and would have been an outstanding husband and father, if he made it back.

  • Marie Mertz

    Please name a puppy( Bea)r in honor of my late husband 30 years of his life was given to this great country. He died last year of complications from be in Vietnam.