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Returning Soldier Initiative

How Do I Get Involved?

There are many ways you can be involved:

  • For currently active military, reserve and veterans who would like to get more information on the requirements and application to become a dog handler please fill out the form below
  • If you are a search and rescue group that would like to sponsor a veteran in your local area please e-mail us here:
  • We need your financial support, please donate at the bottom of the page

If you have problems signing up please contact us here:

Requirements for participating in the Returning Soldier Initiative (RSI)

A volunteer dog handler for the RSI will be responsible for the care and keep of the canine assigned to them for training and search purposes. Training of the team will be completed in conjunction with members of Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States (SARDUS) and other local SAR dog groups. Training often occurs weekly meeting specific training goals with the ultimate goal of meeting the Certification Standards of SARDUS. Upon successful completion of certification process the dog/handler team will respond as requested by the local law enforcement jurisdiction for searches for lost and missing people.

1. Current active military or reserve or former military member with honorable discharge (must provide military record/DD214)- DADT EXCEPTION!
2. Handlers with no previous canine experience must reside in area where there is current SAR support for canine development
3. Two-year minimum commitment to program.
4. Meet monthly training requirements.
5. Meet NIMS Typing Standards for handlers dependent of areas of specialty.
6. Able to care for canine in residence.
7. Able to cover living costs of canine such as food, vet, and supplies.
8. Must be physically able to work in area of specialty.
9. Be able to respond to calls for service in local area.
10. This is a volunteer position with no paid benefits.
11. Must be willing to participate in mental health support program
12. No felony convictions or certain misdemeanors
13. Valid drivers license

Preferred experience
1. Military Dog Handlers or civilian experience in SAR or police canine experience.
2. Experience in search and rescue operations.
3. Combat medic or First Responder or higher medical experience.

RSI is an equal opportunity organization and does not discriminate on basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity.