Bobby Bones is using his talent for storytelling to share the lives of three very special veterans in the documentary short film Even Heroes Need Heroes. As part of their fourth annual “Service Dog Salute” campaign, Purina Dog Chow in partnership with Got Your Six Support Dogs tapped Bones—who has worked with this cause for a while—to serve as executive producer of the film. Using his creative vision, he sheds a very personal light on an issue that affects many of the men and women who have sacrificed so much in serving their country. In honor of Service Dog Awareness Month, the documentary follows the stories of three U.S. veterans whose lives have been impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following their service. The film details ways in which they have found hope though being paired with service dogs that help them as they face a difficult path of coping and healing. It is through the gift of these life-changing dogs that they can regain aspects of everyday life that most people take for granted.
The cause is one that Bones is deeply passionate about, as he hopes that this short film will connect with viewers and paint the very powerful reality of what so many have to walk through every day.
“For me, I mean I got involved on a personal level with the radio show whenever I found out how much it cost to actually train a service dog,” explains Bones. “It was like $20,000, roughly for each of these dogs and then so many of our vets were coming back and not having the money or the support to actually get a service dog when they needed them…The more I learned about service dogs, it’s medicine. I mean we try to get people medicine when we need it, and these dogs really act as such…I’m very proud of what it shows, but hopefully what it does,” he says of the documentary.
Bones and Purina Dog Chow have been partnering together on the work that they were both doing individually for the cause, to provide an even bigger platform to help raise awareness and funds to ensure that veterans are taken care of after their service.
“What I learned is that as much as we think at times that we’re here for our veterans, there’s so much more that we can do,” he shares. “They’re going over and fighting for our freedoms, and they come back and at times they don’t have the support system that would be best for them at that moment. So, what I learned is as much as I’m doing, I’m never quite doing enough…Last year we just talked about this PAWS Act [The PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act (HR4305)] and we were like ‘Send a letter to your senator.’ Well, it just passed, but that’s step one. Now we’ve got to fund it and so there’s just so much that we can do for our veterans, and I just hope that when we show this documentary that people watch it…and go ‘Hey, I’d like to get involved in some capacity.”
The goal of this campaign is to spark awareness and educate people on the topic, but also to drive action to help get service dogs to those veterans who need them.
“This year it’s about learning and if you can, helping. We’re trying to get people to finance this thing…Think about that. $20,000 for a dog to help someone to just help get their life back on track. They’re not asking for a mansion. They went and served us, they fought for us and they’re not coming back going ‘Hey, I need a million dollars.’ They’re coming back going ‘Is it possible that you guys can help me get my life back on a track so that I can continue living?’ And we owe them just that. So, this whole campaign is for awareness. It’s for people to watch the documentary. It’s for people to learn about some of the PTSD that they’re coming back with.”
The dogs in this documentary are extremely talented and show some of the many skills that service dogs can provide veterans. They not only help by providing companionship, but also serve as watch dogs, put veterans at ease by signaling when someone is coming from behind, retrieve items, turn lights on and on, and even wake them from nightmares.
“As someone who suffered from a different type of PTSD I knew about it, but I wasn’t nearly as familiar with what they had gone through and then what the dogs do for them,” says Bones “If they have a nightmare…if you don’t sleep three or four nights in a row and you start to get kind of sick because you’re not sleeping…Well that’s happening with their nightmares. But these dogs notice when they have nightmares. They can wake them up…There are so many other things that these dogs do…There is no time more important than right now for people to understand the importance of service dogs.”
To view the documentary and learn ways to get involved, visit DogChow.com/service. Bones will also be hosting a virtual watch part on Wednesday, September 8 at 12:30 P.M. CST, where he’ll be doing a live Q&A at YouTube.com/DogChow
“Our goal is just to make sure that our veterans are better taken care of. They’re not asking for anything elaborate. They’re just asking for a shot to get their life back on track…”
In addition to working on the documentary, Bones has been busy with a TV show of his own this year. The Dancing with the Stars winner, who has also served as a mentor on American Idol has his own show out titled Breaking Bobby Bones. The show follows Bones as he travels the U.S., encountering interesting people and doing crazy stunts.
He found that the theme of resilience in veterans also emerged in Breaking Bobby Bones when he was tasked with the challenge of learning to play hockey from a U.S. Paralympian named Ralph. “Speaking of military, he went overseas, and a bomb hit him and it blew both of his legs off. He had never played hockey before,” says Bones of the veteran whose story was highlighted in the episode. “He came back to America, learned hockey, [and] found a group of guys. They went and they won the gold medal for the United States. I went and played with and against them. And when I say with, I learned from them and then they beat me up really bad ‘me against them,”’ he says with a laugh. “But it was episodes like that when I can show people’s stories and the stories that I wish could be heard more. I think that the pride I get from doing that show is sharing the stories of people who have fought adversity and have fought back to talk about it.”
Coming up on September 4th and 5th, Bones will be hosting the first-ever BOBBYFEST in New Braunfels, TX and Wichita, KS. The music festival will feature a lineup of his favorite acts, as well as a performance from Bobby Bones & The Raging Idiots, his musical comedy act with Producer Eddie from his radio show.
“I wanted to put a whole festival on of acts that I thought were good, honestly…I get to see a lot of great artists in Nashville and some of them I feel like don’t get the shine they deserve…” he explains of the inaugural festival. “I picked a couple of my friends first—Russell Dickerson and Maddie & Tae—and then I said ‘Okay, now we’re going to build around this.’ So, we have a side stage and great artists like Nikita Karmen and Taylor Acorn. I could go on and on with the fantastic artists that are going to be there, but for me, more than me playing because listen, radio comedy that’s my thing way more than music is, but I know people will come out. And if I can have people come out and maybe see some new artists, some new female artists that I think are fantastic that aren’t getting the look I feel they deserve, that was kind of the reason of the festival…What I hope is people come away not only having a good time but going ‘Man, I saw a couple new artists that I really want to support and follow on social media and stream their music and buy their merch.’ Because without people giving me a chance, I mean I wouldn’t be here either so now I kind of feel like that’s my job is to give other people looks and chances.”