A-State fraternity helps more veterans to find independence

Annual Red, White and Blue BBQ grows even larger in its third year
Service dogs being trained by Retrieving Freedom.
Service dogs being trained by Retrieving Freedom.(Source: KAIT-TV)
Updated: Sep. 2, 2018 at 6:17 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - It’s not your typical Saturday at the Lambda Chi Alpha house on the Arkansas State University campus.

There’s a beach volleyball game underway.

DJ King Vick is cranking up the music and there are teams cooking up BBQ.

But, what really catches your eye is a tent where service dogs can be seen.

The dogs have been driven in all the way from Waverly, Iowa. That’s the home of Retrieving Freedom, an organization that trains service dogs for veterans, individuals with autism and individuals with type one diabetes.

“We had a massive turnout that I wasn’t expecting so even more people were made aware of all the good that Retrieving Freedom does for veterans, and I think it’s important for people to know,” Drew Carnahan, External VP & Philanthropy Chair to Lambda Chi Alpha, said. “This year, we had more Retrieving Freedom dogs, more judges, more sororities, more people, and more barbecue.”

This year, the Red, White and Blue BBQ raised $8,400. That’s more than the fraternity has ever been able to raise in the past.

“I only hope we can top this year’s barbecue with next year’s, and I know we all look forward to trying,” Carnahan said.

Tin Star Barbecue won the bragging rights at this year’s competition.

Tin Star is made up of Region 8 law enforcement officials --Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd, Poinsett County Sheriff Kevin Molder and Craighead County Sheriff Captain Justin Rolland.

Tin Star Barbecue wins first place in the Red, White and Blue BBQ.
Tin Star Barbecue wins first place in the Red, White and Blue BBQ.(Source: KAIT-TV)

“This was my first year planning our Red, White & Blue BBQ and it was an incredible experience,” Carnahan said. “After all the hard work we did, including the work of our officers and brothers, we were all able to enjoy the event with satisfaction, knowing we did something good, knowing we were able to contribute well over $8,000 to service dogs for veterans.”

At one point, the music was turned down and a quiet fell over the parking lot at the fraternity.

“When one of these veterans shared his story at the barbecue, that was when I think everyone realized what the whole day was about,” Carnahan said. “I think it was a really special moment.”

The veteran told A-State students how service dog sensed his anxiety and would lag his head at his feet when his anxiety level went up. He said having the dog has returned him to a normal routine where depression didn’t rule his days. The dog wakes him up in the morning and demands that he get up and around.

Dogs are specifically trained for the needs of each individual that receives them. That training can take a while. Retrieving Freedom claims the key to the organization’s success is matching the dog to the individual who can get the most benefit from that training. But thanks to the efforts of the Iota Theta chapter at Arkansas State University, Retrieving Freedom can train more dogs to help serve the needs of more veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder and injuries sustained during their service.

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