Shari Duval: Mom to Many
Saturday, May 13, 2023
2 min read
Warriors and staff alike still lovingly remember Shari as "Mom."
The story of K9s For Warriors is not only a story of second chances, for both veterans and rescue dogs. It is also the story of a mother’s unwavering love and determination to help her son and countless others.
Shari Duval, the late founder of K9s For Warriors, was a guiding light for many. She was led by both her motherly love and her drive to save lives.
Duval’s journey began when her son, Brett Simon, returned from Iraq in 2005, haunted by the invisible wounds of war. He was a bomb dog handler and returned from two deployments almost unrecognizable. Witnessing her son’s struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder broke her heart. She realized she had to do something.
Inspired by her love for both dogs and second chances, an idea sparked. She would rescue shelter dogs and train them to be paired with veterans living with PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma. That means two lives saved — a veteran and a dog.
After seeing firsthand a dog’s innate ability to provide unconditional emotional support for her own son Brett, she set off to unite struggling veterans with highly-trained Service Dogs. By leveraging this remarkable bond, Duval envisioned a program that would return veterans to a life of dignity and independence.
In 2011, Shari Duval transformed her vision into a reality by founding K9s For Warriors. Duval’s motivation was not merely to pair a dog with a veteran but to create a community for veterans. She wanted K9s For Warriors to be a family.
Duval’s role as a mother shaped every corner of K9s For Warriors. She knew firsthand the impact unconditional love, empathy, and patience could have on those battling mental health issues and rescue dogs alike. Duval’s approach to supporting veterans went beyond the training and pairing of Service Dogs. It lasted a lifetime — Warriors can always find a home at K9s For Warriors.
After a valiant battle with cancer, Duval passed away at the age of 75 in 2021, though her legacy of love lives on.
Shari Duval’s motherly love extended far beyond her own family. She touched the lives of countless veterans and their loved ones. Warriors and staff alike still lovingly refer to her as “Mom.”
Her unconditional love, determination, and vision created a lasting impact that will continue to transform lives for years to come.