USO Announces Partnership with Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation for American Hero Dog Companion Initiative

The United Service Organizations (USO), in partnership with the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation (WBWF), founded by former NASCAR driver and Daytona 500 Champion, is pleased to announce the launch of the American Hero Dog Companion Initiative. On August 12, 2022, Raina Stroman a wounded U.S. Air Force veteran from the Hampton Roads and Central Virginia area will receive a new life companion, Ace, at the WBWF signature annual event, American Heroes Day in Blackstone, Va. This annual event provides active duty and veterans with a day of camaraderie and outdoor activities. To learn more about the annual event, please visit

Ace is a one-year-old black Labrador retriever who has been extensively trained by PepperJack Kennels for military companionship. Ace’s training includes socialization, house training, introduction to crate, learning limits, walks, walking on leash (two sides), heel, (two sides), here, side and front sit, introduction to retrieving, introduction to birds, introduction to water, introduction to gunfire and single retrieves.

To learn more about the American Hero Dog Campaign, please visit

“The USO is excited to partner with the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation to support our wounded, ill and injured service members and their families,” said Jim Whaley, Regional President, USO Southeast Region. “The USO understands the strong bond between humans and animals and recognizes the critical role dogs like Ace play within the military community. With dedicated partners like Ward Burton, PepperJack Kennels, and Screaming Eagle Ready Mix the USO can continue to support the mental and physical health of our service members and their families.”

“We’re thrilled to join together wonderful partner and foundation donor, Screaming Eagle Ready Mix, with the USO and PepperJack Kennels to facilitate providing a true American Hero with a new family member, Ace (Labrador Retriever),” said Ward Burton, founder of the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation.” Those of us with loyal companions can attest to the wonderful bond and joy that a dog can bring to a family and are confident Ace will be just that for this deserving military family.”

Each year, an estimated 200,000-plus service members transition from the military to civilian life, and more than 650,000 military spouses are constantly transitioning. The USO is dedicated to helping them every step of the way through additional life support services including but not limited to:

  • USO Mentorship Platform: This resource helps connect transitioning service members and military spouses with professionals in their industry of interest and help them navigate meaningful career paths in a rapidly changing world.

  • USO Pathfinder® Transition Program: USO Transition Specialists work with service members to create an individualized plan focusing on employment, education, financial readiness, mentorship, and increased access to relevant veterans’ benefits in their communities.

  • USO Warrior and Family Centers: The USO offers comfort and support to wounded, ill and injured service members and their families and caretakers at our USO Warrior Centers located at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany; Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Maryland; Fort Belvoir, Va., and USO Warrior Family Support Center on Brooke Army Medical Center’s Campus in San Antonio, Tx.

Media interested in learning more about the service member selected to receive Ace please contact Barry Morris, USO Southeast Regional Communications Manager at

Media interested in attending the August 12, 2022, Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation (WBWF), signature annual event, American Heroes Day in Blackstone, Va., please contact Rob Wallace, WBWF Event Coordinator at

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