Freedom Fidos Founder:
Freedom Fidos rescues dogs from shelters, task trains them to be service dogs, and provides them for Free to Veterans, Special Needs children, and First Responders.
Freedom Fidos is a Georgia based 501 (C)(3) nonprofit. Freedom Fidos is proud the organization maintains its commitment for four years since its inception that 100% of generous contributions go to the organization, populations we serve, and our wonderful K-9’s.
We are also proud that we are all volunteers as there is no salary for any individual associated with Freedom Fidos. We are a small organization doing big things. The ripple effect of our organization grows exponentially on a daily basis leading us to gratitude, excitement, and humility to be afforded this opportunity to make a difference.
Freedom Fidos is extremely blessed to be comprised of a 17 member Board of Directors. Despite many of our Members having jobs, family, and staying extremely busy: their love for humanity and K-9s not only led them to Freedom Fidos but also, they are committed to social responsibility, making a difference and community impact. They meaningfully participate because they are on purpose, with a compelling mission and personal values which results in a fulfilling culture.
Freedom Fidos is grateful to the eight individuals on our Board of Directors who serve (d) in the Military. They provide the organization with incredible amounts of insight regarding one of the populations we serve.
Freedom Fidos is grateful to one of our Board Members, Kristin Jopling. She is the wife of an active duty military officer and the mother of a child with special needs. Kristin’s commitment to humanity and her desire to help Freedom Fidos strengthen and grow our organizational impact on the veterans and children with special needs we serve is wonderful.
After 9/11/2001, Matt had a desire to work for the Central Intelligence Agency. Matt knew he needed to learn more in order to make that dream a reality, so he enlisted in the Georgia Army National Guard in 2001. During this period of service, he served as a Military Police Officer graduating 2nd in his class out of 110 soldiers. He deployed to Iraq with the 190th MP Unit and was MEDVAC out of Iraq two months later due to a blast explosion and a severe reaction to the Anthrax Vaccination.
Matt was sent to Ft. Benning, GA, to undergo physical evaluations, where the doctors informed Matt that he would not be returned to his Unit. Instead he was being referred to the Medical Evaluation Board to be medically retired from the Army. Hearing this information created a sense of loss not only from a career perspective, but also the realization that life had changed drastically for him.
Matt was transferred to Walther Reed Army Medical Hospital for further treatment and for his Medical Evaluation Board. While at Walter Reed, Matt participated in a sleep study only to find out later that he had been a victim of a Military Sexual Trauma. This assault took place by the male technician who was administrating the study and caught on video. The core of who Matt once was, had now been totally stripped away.
As Matt, was walking the halls of Walther Reed, he learned of a yearlong program involving Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. He immediately enrolled and these programs not only began to allow Matt to change course and begin to heal, but also increased his fascination with self-help and mental health.
After extensive military evaluations Matt was determined to have an 80% disabled rating from the US Army and Medically retired. After, a two year process, the Department of Veteran Affairs diagnosed Matt with eighteen medical conditions whittled to a 100% disabled rating with the VA.
After Matt’s retirement, he enrolled in classes at East Central Technical College majoring in RV Repair. Matt then applied to the Syracuse University Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) and was accepted.
He then began college at Gainesville State in 2010, receiving his Political Science Associates Degree.
Matt then applied to and was accepted into the University of Georgia as a Psychology Major. It was during his time at UGA he was sent an email regarding a program called, Soldiers to Summits. Soldiers to Summits, uses the lessons of climbing mountains to teach Veterans how to overcome the barriers in their own lives. Being interested, Matt applied for the program and was selected for the Mount Cotopaxi, Ecuador expedition. During this year long program Matt had the honor to meet and become friends Erik Weihenmayer.
Erik would later become a pivotal friend, mentor, and a huge support for Matt and his recovery. Erik inspired Matt but also challenged him to become a better version of himself while engaging with humanity. Matt’s daily commitment and life purpose is to like Erik Weihenmayer, elevate others. The complimentary articulation from Erik regarding Matt in Eriks Book, No Barriers, A Blind Man’s Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon, are one of many catalysts which drive Matt to achieve many of the same results as one of his most impactful heroes, Erik Weihenmayer.
With the help of his rope team, Matt reached the summit of Mount Cotopaxi on 12/12/12. The mental hurdles, the healing, and the peace Matt found and overcame as he climbed Mount Cotopaxi showed Matt that with the right preparation and teammates anything is possible. This new mindset changed the way Matt approached the world.
After Soldiers to Summits, Matt returned to UGA, where he suffered another traumatic brain injury, which led to more health problems, including blackouts. It was during these blackouts that Matt’s dog Brinks, would provide life saving measures by waking him up when he stopped breathing at night and alerting people to his black outs.
Since Matt was doing a great deal of travel for public speaking engagements, he wanted Brinks to be able to travel with him in case this happened while on the road. Matt found a Service Dog Organization in Myrtle Beach, SC that stated they would help him train Brinks to become his service animal. Matt not only trained Brinks himself, but also, realized his gift with training dogs and it reshaped the vision of his life moving forward.
In June 2014, after learning how to train service dogs, Matt created Freedom Fidos. Freedom Fidos used rescue dogs from shelters, train them to be task trained service dogs, and then provided them at no cost to disabled Veterans, special needs children, and first responders.
In 2016, Matt made the decision to move the operation to Georgia, wanting to get back to a State he loves. Freedom Fidos as a South Carolina Incorporation was dissolved. Matt filed Fidos4Heroes Inc, d.b.a. Freedom Fidos as a Georgia Based Nonprofit and received the IRS 501(c)(3) status in September 2016. Since its inception in 2014, Freedom Fidos has trained and certified 36 Service Dogs and Handlers. The 200 plus individuals waiting for a service dog from Freedom Fidos is an honor in addition to a serious responsibility.
In November 2016, Fidos4Heroes, Inc, d.b.a. Freedom Fidos, purchased a four acre plot of land which is the new and permanent location of the Freedom Fido’s Facility. Freedom Fidos is excited to see the beginning of the new Kennels which will allow the organization to house sixteen dogs, and reduce the waiting list beginning to come to fruition once the remaining funds have been contributed.
Much Love from all of us at Freedom Fidos.