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SVMS Student Recovered and Ready to PlayBy Kathi HolzschuherOn November 13, 2021, seventh- grade SVMS student Emma Ramos and her family were driving home on Highway 46 when their car was struck head-on by an oncoming vehicle. Emma was seriously injured, suffering a broken left femur, right tibia, and severe internal injuries, including a grade 5 spleen and liver laceration.At the time of the accident, Emma was a player for the Smithson Valley Middle School (SVMS) girls’ basketball team and the girls’ volleyball team. Upon returning to school in mid-December, she was using a wheelchair. Sports were on hold-indefinitely.Sports are essential to Emma. “Softball is my favorite, and I was also looking forward to playing both volleyball and basketball.” Unable to participate in softball last season, Emma helped manage the team instead. “I look forward to playing for the Mustangs this year!” Emma exclaims.Emma’s favorite sports memory is from volleyball. “It was the first time I served the ball over the net. I remember starting to doubt myself but knew if I kept practicing, Iwoulddoit.NotonlydidIgetitover,butI did it several more times in a row to help my teamwinthegame.”Shesaysproudly.Emma was able to pull from the characteristics required to become successful at sports and apply them toNov. 17, 2021- Ramos family struck head on on Hwy 46healing her body; hard work, practice, and a willingness to listen and learn.She credits her coaches, Albert, Gregory, and Smith, for teaching her to dig in and work hard. She also credits her parents. “My parents always tell me the harder you work, the better you will be.” Says Emma.Emma was utterly inspired to recover from her community. “I received so much support from my coaches and teammates after the accident. From hospital visits to yellow ribbons and faces painted with my initials to a fundraiser at The Branch. It was very heartwarming.”Emma explains fondly. Emma is looking forward to 8th grade at SVMS. She can’t wait to try out for volleyball, basketball, and softball and is excited to hang out with friends.We wish her all the best and a winning season!Dec 6, 2021 at the Branch restaurant “Give Back”a portion of the day went to the Ramos family. The first responders from Johnson Ranch station 3 and station 1off Rodeo Dr.Jackson left front, Melissa (Mom), Emma, Nick (Dad), Jacob.Emma is excited about a new school year.House & Senate Passed The PAWS For Veterans Therapy Acty Catherine LariaBRecently the House and Senate passed the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act, to create a VA pilotprogram for veterans diagnosed with post- traumatic stress disorder to train dogs for service. And the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in San Antonio is one of the five VA centers hosting this pilot program! This is another step forward in assisting our Military veterans who struggle after serving their country. It was reported in the 2021, NVSP annual report that the average Veteran suicides per day decreased to 17.2 a day but is still 52.3% greater than non-Veteran U.S. adults. Although a decrease, it is still a statistic we, as a society, need to eradicate.Studies show service dogs provide more than just emotional support, especially for people with PTSD. Specialized service dogs, who perform specific tasks, can help with overall symptoms and possibly reduce the amount of medication some veterans require for treatment. Service dogs can effectively give these veterans a new lease on life. I saw this firsthand while working with a service dog program years ago. I watched as a Vietnam veteran struggled to stay calm while he was separated from his service dog. After only about 8 minutes they were reunited, and that dog walkedCasey Ranney, Veteran Trainer with K9 Kevler and his new Veteran owner proudly present certificate with K9SWAT founder, Catherine Laria.8www.highlightspubs.comSeptember 2022K9 Kevlar and his Veteran handlerright over to him and put her big paw on his leg as if to say “I’ve got you.” He immediately settled down and his tremors subsided. I knew then I always wanted to be a part of this incredible, magical bond, even if just in some small way.I began K9 Service with A Twist, a 501c3, in April 2020 to support and inspire programs that focus on a second chance at life for military veterans, prison inmates, and shelter dogs. Small but mighty, K9SWATsupports programs such as Paws In Prison, where dogs slated for euthanasia are paired with prison inmates for basic training and care while they await adoption. K9SWAT helps advance the education of those in the program by exposing them to the many facets of Service Dog Training to increase their chances of employment when paroled and decreasing the recidivism rate in prison.We also train a small number of service dogs and Battle Buddies for local veterans who suffer from social isolation and PTSD. Eligible dogs go through advance trainingto be partnered with veterans in need of an Emotional Support Animal or Certified Service Dog, completely free of charge. K9SWAT supports the veterans and their dogs with training and recertification throughout the dog’s life.I am excited to see what this new law brings to the many veterans in desperate need of this kind of support and we look forward to continuing our mission. If you are interested in supporting this worthwhile organization, please visit us at

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