Valley Stream students auction off art work to help veterans with PTSD

VALLEY STREAM — Students at Ogden Elementary School partnered with Paws of War to make a difference in the lives of veterans.

Lionel Bouman, who is a Vietnam veteran and has post-traumatic stress disorder, was paired with his dog through the Paws of War nonprofit.

"I‘d rather they not know what I’ve gone through, but it is important for them to know how they can help us," Bouman said.

"So what I’m trying is, I’m trying to get the children to understand how important it is and how much respect and thanks we need to give," said art teacher Thomas Finn.

The students helped by holding an auction of art work that they created, along with some local artists.

"They need dogs to help them erase the bad memories that they have, and these pictures symbolize that," said fifth grader Arielle Vaknine.

Students also had an assembly by the organization to understand what the Paws of War does, and they even got to play with the pups.

"My dog helps me get through the day. He’s there for me; he keeps me calm," Bouman said.

The Paws of War trains dogs to help veterans with PTSD. It can cost up to $15,000 to train the dogs.

Students said the experience taught them a great deal.

"I have learned that it’s really important to make a difference in the world," said fifth grader Isabela Nolasco.

"I think it’s really amazing for a young elementary school to be doing this because you learn as you grow up that making a difference is so important and so helpful to others," said Ariana Ciampone, who is also in the fifth grade.

For veterans like Bouman, he says it is teaching an important lesson.

"The kids learn they’re giving something and not to expect necessarily anything back except a thank you, which is important," Bouman said.