By Alexander Shedd
The life of POWMIA, known as “The National Therapy Dog,” was celebrated with a full military funeral service and Color Guard at the Salem VA Medical Center on May 13, 2022. POWMIA was a frequent visitor to the Center and was the official mascot of a number of organizations, including the 29th Division Association Post 64, Oakey’s Funeral Home in Roanoke and the 8th Air Force Fellowship.
Born as Maya on February 13, 2012, POWMIA, AKC/CGC/THD/RE/SD, Commando Warrior was the “most famous therapy dog in the country,” according to her resume on the Oakey’s website. She became a Certified Therapy Dog at two years old and spent her entire life serving the emotional and wellbeing needs of veterans.
POWMIA visited medical centers and attended events for veterans constantly in the course of her service. Among her many accolades, she earned a hospice caregiver award and a brick at the D-Day Memorial. Her handler, Steve “Commando” Roragen, said in an interview with CBS Channel 7, “Ten long years, we were blessed. She changed a life and saved so many more.” POWMIA was also the Channel 7 Good News K-9.
The funeral service concluded with the Color Guard and an American Flag presented to Steve Roragen. POWMIA’s love and kindness will live forever in the countless hearts and minds she touched in her life.