About Us

One of Our Veterans and His Dog

Our Vision And Our Mission

The Circle of Change Veterans Dog Program –a fantastic life improving innovation for our veterans experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). PTSD and TBI have been identified as the long lasting legacies of the recent Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Circle of Change has developed a program that is making a difference for veterans struggling with these issues. The program serves veterans of all conflicts who are challenged, disabled, in transition, and/or suffer from the effects of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury).

The program goal is to be a provider of helpful and healing dog observation, training, and handling experiences for veterans, especially those having been exposed to trauma. With dogs as the vehicle, it is the mission of Circle of Change to educate, enhance, improve, and positively affect veterans’ lives.In so doing, we find the veterans experience an improvement in their quality of life, self-esteem, confidence, self- respect, communication, trust and social skills.

Admission to the program requires a referral from VA or Vet Center licensed mental health professionals, some of whom have found this program to be as, or more, effective than some of the more traditional therapies. To support this Program, click the “SUPPORT US” link. We are very thankful for the continued support of Rockford's best web design company.

For veterans

Veterans spend two hours weekly, for thirteen weeks, under the tutelage and guidance of carefully selected professional dog trainers working to improve the quality of life of troubled dogs. At the same time, veterans have access to steady and well trained dogs to build confidence and comfort in dog handling. Dogs are provided by the trainers from their client base. Veterans learn about various dog breeds, their personalities and qualities. By working with dogs, veterans learn to communicate, establish and reinforce limits, set realistic goals, recognize and accept differences, and to be fair, firm and consistent with praise for good effort. Week by week, veterans come out of themselves, engagingwith others while improving their outlook. By teaching skills to the dogs, veterans are able to reflect on their own issues. By not only teaching the dogs they come to mentor other veterans new to the program.. With only the dogs’ issues discussed and worked on, it’s not only an educational experience but fun. Our veterans enjoy being in a safe, relaxing environment with other veterans.

For dogs

The dogs our veterans work with learn to trust, respect and have confidence in their human leaders. They learn to make decisions that will be acceptable and safe enough for the dog to be considered a polite, respectful, calm and valued companion. The dogs are taught to replace any and all negative and unsafe habits with new behaviors that are positive, useful, safe and more appropriate. The dogs become valued and dependable companion dogs.

Circle of Change does not train or provide service dogs to veterans.

for the public

Veteran handlers are able to reinforce, practice and fine tune the skills the dog has been taught. Then by example, veteran handlers are able to share information and practice the life skills they have learned from training the dog.

Many of our loved ones have suffered from trauma related to their military service. The Circle of Change Veterans Dog Program provides a safe, veteran friendly environment that fosters healing through the handling and training of dogs. This program has helped many veterans to get their lives headed in a positive direction. In the military they learned leadership. The program helps them rediscover those skills and talents leading them to become leaders within our society. They also become better managers, friends, and family members.

Our Programs These are our current classes

Rockford, IL

On Monday evening we meet at Dave’s Doggie Den from 5:45-7:45, 107 Saint Louis Ave. in Rockford.

Dave's Doggie Den caters to dog owners who need dog training, grooming and daycare. We believe in a natural, more holistic way of life for dogs, and we incorporate that into all of our services.

Veterans interested in a referral to our Rockford classes should contact Carol Martin or Sarah Uphoff-Ostrum at the Rockford VA Clinic at 815-227-0081, or a clinician at the Rockford Vet Center, 815-395-1276

Rockford, IL

On Thursday mornings we meet at Ms Cristy’s Canine Academy at 7117 Clinton Rd, Suite 2, in Loves Park from 10:30 to 12:30.

Ms. Cristy believes every dog deserves a top-notch education. The skills and extracurricular activities not only teach but also challenge dogs, and ensure they become well-rounded canine citizens.

Veterans interested in a referral to our Rockford classes should contact Carol Martin or Sarah Uphoff-Ostrum at the Rockford VA Clinic at 815-227-0081 or a clinician at the Rockford Vet Center, 815-395-1276.

Madison, WI

We started a class series in Madison Wisconsin in January 2014 at The Dog Den, 1019 Jonathon Dr. Classes meet on Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30. A local committee was formed to develop, supervise and fund these classes.

At the Dog Den, we treat your dog like our very own by providing a safe, supervised and structured atmosphere for them to play, socialize, and learn with others.

For Madison classes, contact your VA clinician or Donald Bialkowski, at 608-256-1901, for a referral. OIF/OEF/OND veterans, may contact Program Director Jay White at 608-256-1901 X11962. You may also get a referral from a clinician at the Madison Vet Center, 608-264-5342.

testimonials What our veterans say

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How You Can Support Circle of Change

Sponsors are vital to the ongoing mission of Circle of Change, Inc. Without the support of individuals, organizations and corporations, Circle of Change would be unable to fulfill its mission of improving the lives of the veteran members of our community. With your help, we can continue to serve our communities and instill 21st Century life skills in the at-risk and special needs veterans, helping to heal those suffering the effects of anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress, and traumatic brain injury. Private donations alone fund this program.

Yes! I wish to help support the ongoing mission of Circle of Change, Inc.! Please click the Donatebutton and provide your information, so we may process your generous donation. Should you like to sponsor one of our Circle of Change two hour veteran dog classes, on the donation form note that as the purpose of your donation and enter $200 for each class sponsored. Please note: Donations are tax deductible as allowed under IRS 501(c)(3) regulations.


You may also show your support by going to Our GoFundMe page. Our $10,000 goal was set to fund our longer term program sustainability.

Federal Employees may designate funds for Circle of Change through the Combined Federal Campaign in their area. We will not be listed in your area campaign booklet, however, you can still contribute by listing Circle of Change organization number 15371.

If you are an Amazon shopper, log on to Amazon Smile below and let your purchases help Circle of Change at no extra cost to you.


We are very thankful for the generous support of our sponsors!

      Alpine Kiwanis, Rockford IL
      Rockton IL Lions Club
      Ecolab Foundation, Roscoe IL
      John Mehlbaum
      Talley Bryan Foundation
      Ladies Auxiliary VFW 1461
      Jessica’s Restaurant, Roscoe IL
      Iowa Foundation for Education, Environment and the Arts
      Victoria Talley Colebank Foundation
      Master Sergeant Bernie Riddle
      Exelon Generation, Byron Illinois
      EMAC Veterans Committee, Exelon Generation, Byron, Illinois
      Stateline Community Foundation, Beloit, WI
      Waterman IL Elementary School First Grade Pennies Project
      American Family Insurance has generously supported Madison classes in 2015.
Our Classes
Our Classes

Upcoming Circle of Change Events

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Springfield, IL Golf Outing

The Air National Guard in Springfield Illinois under the leadership of MSgt Bernie Riddle holds the Springfield event each July in Springfield. For 2016, the golf outing will be held on Friday, AUG 12 at 10 AM. Please contact Master Sergeant Bernie Riddle at 217-652-2267 or by email at bernieriddle@comcast.net

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Rockford Car Show

The July 10 show at the Venetian Club in Rockford was our first and contributed needed resources to Circle of Change. For 2016, the show will be held Sunday July 10 at the Venetion Club. REGISTER NOW FOR THE 2016 VETERANS DOG PROGRAM CAR SHOW!!!

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Rockford Area Golf Outing

Mark Fenn hosts our annual Rockford golf outing. The event will be held on August 6th, at the Westlake Golf Course in Winnebago at 3820 West Lake Village at 10AM. You can find the flyer with more details here.

Circle of Change

contact us


contact details

Circle of Change
P.O. Box 9
Rockton, IL 61072


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