“The National Therapy Dog” honored with full military funeral service at Salem VA Medical Center

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 10:26 PM EDT
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - A siren rang out at noon inside the Chapel of the Salem VA Medical Center. It was to signify the beginning of the military funeral service for “The National Therapy Dog,” but most know her as “POWMIA.”

“She just touched so many lives,” said Steve “Commando” Roragen, POWMIA’s handler.

POWMIA was the official mascot of seven organizations, including the 29th Division Association Post 64, Oakey’s Funeral Home and the 8th Air Force Fellowship. The Salem VA Medical Center was also a place where many veterans knew exactly who POWMIA was.

“Our first request was turned down to use the chapel because of regulations and procedures. Once the VA found out this was for POWMIA, an hour later they called and said they are going to make an exception. You don’t see too many memorial services for canines but she deserved this, she really deserved this.”

POWMIA was the national therapy dog, had a hospice caregiver award, has a brick at the D-Day Memorial and was the Channel 7 Good News K-9. Those are just a few of the accolades she possessed, but the real reward was the special connection she will always have on the Roanoke Valley community.

“10 long years, we were blessed. She changed a life and saved so many more.”

The service closed with the DAV Color Guard honoring POWMIA with an American Flag that was presented to Roragen. A reminder that she is gone, but will never be forgotten.

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