I have always had a passion and commitment for volunteer service. I have worked with dozens of charitable and community organizations over the past 40 years including Special Olympics, D.A.R.E., C-SNIP and the Rockford and Sparta Chambers of Commerce.
In 2007 I began working with Veterans with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and many other complicated emotional and physical issues related to military service. My lifelong career as a Chiropractor was at ethical odds with the amount and variety of medications being given to America’s Veterans to assist them in coping with the struggles of returning home to resume a normal life after serving in the military and/or in combat. I just knew there had to be a better solution.
I started thinking about all of the pets I have had in my life have taught me a lot about patience, consistency, the helpfulness of routine and how these activities can add to anyone’s quality of life. Surely the right pet (mostly dogs, but any pet can offer respite from some of these symptoms) could assist some Veterans in some natural healing through unconditional love and furry snuggles. Pets can often help take the focus off of yourself and ease the horrible symptoms of PTSD and other diagnoses. The necessity for consistent routine when caring for a pet can help immensely with many of the symptoms our Veterans encounter.
As Executive Director at K9 Camo Companions my mission and pledge to our West Michigan Veterans and their pets is to do everything in my power to help both the Veteran and the pet find peace and contentment in their lives together.
Curt Harris is familiar with the life-changing support obtained through organizations like K9 Camo Companions. Medically disabled, Curt is passionate about helping Veterans to receive the same life-changing experiences he has received to live a healthy and productive life following a transition from the military to civilian life.
After leaving his hometown of New Era, Michigan, Curt served eight years in the Army with the military police and as a 14-S Avenger crewmember responsible for operating the Air and Missile Defense Avenger System. He brings his skill in teamwork, discipline, and leadership to his volunteer duties with K9 Camo Companion as he strives to affect change in the lives of his fellow Veterans with the placement of a companion animal for healing and respite.
Curt and his lovely wife, Sarah, have five children ranging in ages from twelve to sixteen. The family has a myriad of pets, including four cats, one dog, and six Guinea pigs—furry love comes in all sizes in the Harris household. When Curt isn’t helping others, he enjoys spending time with his family, playing video games and constructing models.
Retired Army Sargent, Jeff Schlienz, spent eight years in the military, working his way to the ranks of 95B, 95D MOS to Sargent. As an Army military police officer, he spent much of his time supervising or providing law and order operations on the battlefield and for the Army community.
His continued concern for the safety of his fellow man, and the animals who give such unconditional love and support, led him to volunteer with K9 Camo Companions to help Veterans by providing them with companion animals. He is grateful for each of the board members, volunteers, and the public for their support and generosity in raising awareness to help our Veterans, and rescue shelter animals to give them a forever home.
Jeffrey is a Greenville native and enjoys camping and snowmobiling with his family. He and his beautiful wife, Rebecca, have a son, Kyle, and a dog named Vex. He is an avid sports fan, regularly cheering for his favorite NFL team, the Denver Broncos, and the Michigan Wolverines.
Sandi VanDenHeuvel enjoys being active. As a licensed cosmetologist, she uses a bit of art and science to help others look and feel their best. As a volunteer with K9 Camo Companions, she enjoys helping Veterans find the healing support needed to enrich their lives, and to save animals in shelters from euthanasia, or abandonment by giving them an opportunity for a loving, forever home.
In 2007, Sandi began volunteering for several worthy causes, like women’s care groups, the American Legion, Lung Cancer Awareness, Motorcycles for Mutts, and, since 2016, for K9 Camo Companions. She feels very blessed and has many cherished memories of the Veterans and pups she has met over the years.
Sandi’s husband, Derek, often volunteers his time for K9 Camo Companions. Together, they have four grown children, and a one-year-old grandson. They also have two dogs and a cat.
Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Sandi is the oldest of three siblings. In her spare time, she enjoys flower and vegetable gardening, and rooting for the U of M football and basketball teams. In winter, you will find Sandi snowmobiling in Cadillac or Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Caroline Hubbard has experienced firsthand the needs of Veterans and their families. She was a military wife for ten plus years while her husband, Fred, served in the Army. She continues to help and care for many Veterans, including her husband, who struggle with persistent issues each day related to their military service.
Because of this experience, Caroline carries a heartfelt need to help Veterans. Her desire is to see improvements in Veteran and children services, and a growing awareness of K9 Camo Companions services in West Michigan. Her knowledge gives her a unique understanding of the issues. Assisting Executive Director Dr. Lori Vorpi, Caroline constructs and directs services and events to help support K9 Camo Companions.
Caroline and her husband, Fred, have two active sons, ages seven and eleven. Born and raised in Newaygo, Michigan, Caroline enjoys traveling and spending time with family. They have two dogs—her husband’s German Shepherd service dog, and a family companion pet, a Staffordshire Terrier mix.
Kaitlyn Denevan is the first female in her family to join the military. Born and raised in Greenville, Michigan with her younger brother, Kaitlyn served eight years in the Navy as an Operation Specialist Second Class/OS2, E-5, where she maintained strategic and tactical information.
With her dedication to detail, Ms. Denevan serves as the Office Administrator for K9 Camo Companions, and brings a commitment to help Veterans find the perfect companion pet to enhance their lives. She is a firm supporter of various causes like Sexual Assault/Harassment Prevention and Awareness, Suicide Prevention and Awareness, and the continued effort to increase awareness of the need for Veteran support programs. For Kaitlyn, her work with K9 Camo Companions is a rewarding achievement, assisting Veterans find solace with companion animals, just as her dog, Otto, a Long Hair Chihuahua/Yorkie mix, has helped her. She also has two cats.
Kaitlyn also enjoys outdoor activities like swimming and hiking when the Michigan weather permits, and spending time with family and her pets, reading, or a challenging video game.