DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — In honor of Memorial Day, veterans who have died were honored at Sunset Memorial Park during its annual ‘Wiregrass Memorial Day Ceremony.’

Close to 700 veterans are laid to rest at Sunset Memorial Park in Dothan and each was honored for their sacrifice in Monday’s ceremony.

Kenny Bass, a former United States Marine, and now Co-Founder and Executive Director of the “Battle Buddy Foundation served in Iraq during the first 8-months of the war, and just six months into his deployment, his tank was hit by an explosive, causing both physical and mental struggles.

“I suffered from severe depression I was suicidal at times,” Bass said. “I know, if my service dog made such an impact on my life, I am certain a lot of the veterans in our program benefit in a much similar fashion.”

He believes service dogs, like his Atlas, can go beyond being man’s best friend but help in a variety of ways, giving unconditional love and loyalty to veterans that feel they might have nothing left.

“Whether it’s, post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, physical injuries, or other issues,” Bass said.

In addition, Atlas assists by waking Bass up when having nightmares caused by his PTSD and also helps stand guard in public places giving him a sense of security while helping Bass live a better life.

“I know for me personally my service dog saved my life,” Bass said.

That lifeline didn’t come without a cost. Bass struggled to get a service dog due to the expense, which is why he doesn’t want another veteran to face those dilemmas. The reason why he started the ‘Battle Buddy Foundation.’

“Ultimately I was able to kind of take a lot of my struggle, a lot of my experience in getting a service dog, and we built an organization,” Bass said.

His mission now, sharing his story with communities around the nation, in hopes to raise funds, and giving a veteran their own ”battle buddy.”

“We are working towards getting another service dog,” Bass said. “That is another life saved.”

Bass and Atlas’s visit was just one-way veterans were honored during the annual ceremony, a 21-gun salute,
and flowers being laid on the graves of those who served and have passed.

“It’s not just that veteran it’s that family as well,” Bass said. “It’s just an incredible thing to be a part of.”

Bass, Atlas, and the organizers at Sunset Memorial want to remind the community how important it is to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country every day, and not just on Memorial Day.

You can donate to ‘Battle Buddy Foundation’ here.