New private effort will connect veterans, shelter animals

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Anna Marie Lux
Saturday, July 26, 2014

JANESVILLE—Linn Krafjack has worried for years whether troops overseas had decent toothbrushes, toiletries and snacks.

She continues to raise money to send care packages to them as part of Operation Ooh-Rah, named after the spirited cry of the Marines.

Now, Operation Ooh-Rah plans to launch two new efforts, probably in 2015, to help veterans at home.

The first is Wounded Partners, a program to match shelter animals with veterans seeking companionship.

“Our program will go one step further,” Krafjack of Janesville explained. “We will match our animals with veterinarians so the animals have free care for life. We realize so many of our veterans have financial hardships. We don't want their new friends to become financial burdens.”

Her initial contacts with animal shelters have gone well.

“With so many of our veterans coming home with post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, I believe this will benefit them,” she said. “Also, with our shelters full these days, they need a helping hand.”

Krafjack has laid groundwork for the program, which she will begin once Operation Ooh-Rah is approved for charitable status.

Brett Frazier of the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin reacted positively to the idea.

“There is no shortage of pets who need people and no shortage of people who need pets,” he said, “We are working on ways to make those matches.”

He has read recent studies of how animals help vets cope with post traumatic stress.

“So many have given so much to our country and communities,” Frazier said. “It is up to us to help them.”

Krafjack also plans to start a Daily Living Program, which will offer veterans help with rides, sitters, shopping, rent and food. She said she will coordinate her efforts with programs already available.

Krafjack became the inspiration behind Operation Ooh-Rah after raising money for care packages for her son and everyone in his Marine unit each of the five times he was deployed to war zones.

“We are going to involve as many in the community as possible until we get all our veterans taken care of,” Krafjack said. “I know a veteran family in Janesville now who is having a hard time finding an apartment. We have veterans in need everywhere.”

Anna Marie Lux is a columnist for The Gazette. Her columns run Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call her with ideas or comments at 608-755-8264, or email amarielux@gazettextra.com.

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