Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, Fairway Wholesale Lending and the American Warrior Initiative (AWI) wrapped up last year by granting 16 service dogs to 16 veterans in a timespan of less than one hour.
The presentations were part of the American Warrior Initiative’s mission to bridge the military-civilian divide by bringing awareness to civilians all over this country of the challenges facing service members and helping service members to know that there are people who do care.
Fairway founded AWI in 2015 and underwrites all expenses of the nonprofit, with Fairway employees donating millions of dollars to the non-profit over the years.
“When I began to originate loans for active-duty military clients in Leesville, La., I heard stories of what these soldiers and their families were going through, and it broke my heart. Some of the challenges include repeated deployments, post-traumatic stress, financial strain, higher rate of divorce, and tragically a higher rate of suicide,” Louise Thaxton, a branch manager at Fairway and a military specialist for the American Warriors Initiative, said.
“As I began to speak nationally to mortgage professionals about the needs in the military community, there was a beautiful response, and people began asking how they could help. The CEO of Fairway generously allowed us to create a nonprofit where 100% of the donations would go directly to veterans and active duty service members,” she said.
In total, AWI funding granted 100 service dogs in 2021, a few seen in these photos, doubling the 50 given in 2020. It has not, however, been a smooth ride to get to this point, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing hardship to the cause.
“Because of the pandemic, service dog companies either completely shut down or drastically reduced the training of dogs,” Thaxton said. “This dramatically impacted our initiative in 2020 as we were only able to grant 50 dogs when the goal was actually 100. And a tragic fact is that suicide rates increased for veterans in 2020.
“We are determined, moving forward that we will place as many dogs in the hands, hearts and lives of as many veterans as we can — because we believe service dogs save lives,” she said.
Along with donating service dogs, Fairway also honors service members through staff-related activities, such as wearing red on Fridays to “Remember Everyone Deployed” and hosting events across the country like 5Ks and auctions.
Looking ahead, Thaxton said her long-term goal is to create a veteran reality TV show that brings awareness to the challenges that veterans and active-duty military members face as well as how Americans can help.
This piece was originally featured in the February issue of HousingWire magazine. To read the full issue, go here.