SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Nansemond-Suffolk Academy held its first in-person Veterans Day celebration since the COVID-19 pandemic along with a new service dog.

The Suffolk school held the event Friday morning on Veterans Day and introduced their new Mutts With A Mission facility dog, Jett, which will serve as an ambassador for the non-profit organization.

Mutts with a Mission has placed 65 dogs with veterans and law enforcement officers. They’ve also placed facility dogs at police stations, but Jett is the first dog to be placed with a school.

“We have many students that come to us throughout the day stressed out with anxiety so the dog will be there to add some joy and comfort to that students day,” said NSA Counselor Kate Gover. “We’re hoping it really helps to deescalate stress and maybe change some lives for these kids and how their day goes.”

Gover says Jett will also be a reason for kids to come into their office when maybe they were reluctant before.

“Even that can add comfort to a situation that can be so tense for students so I think its going to make a huge change in how students approach the guidance office,” said Gover.

She believes Jett will also help teachers too.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to take a break and sit with the dog and relax and then get back to their day after that,” said Gover.

Mutts With a Mission trains service dogs for disabled veterans, first responders and law enforcement at no cost to the recipient.

“They serve a big veteran community and have a lot of active duty service members kids who go here and there’s definitely value placing a dog in a school,” said Mutts with a Mission Founder, Brooke Corson. “These kids suffered through COVID just as adults did, maybe even more, and not only are they having to go through COVID, but some have parents who are deployed that haven’t been able to come back.”

Air Force Veteran and Nansemond Suffolk Parent, Adrienne Hartgerink was the keynote speaker at the Veteran’s Day Assembly and says she believes Jett will bring comfort to kids whose parents are still serving.

“These kids have been through a lot these last few years with COVID and especially military families when their parents are deployed it can be really hard on them,” said Hartgerink.

Jett will help further promote overall well-being among NSA students, faculty and staff and will help to facilitate conversations about mental health and wellness with our school counselors.

NSA’s new facility dog was made possible by Doctors Kate and Adam Henderson (NSA Class of 2003), who co-own Tidewater Animal Clinic in Suffolk and treat dogs trained by Mutts With A Mission.

“15 people in a room later, they agreed immediately and it has been very seamless,” said Henderson.

Jett will spend time in each division with school counselors throughout the school day. She will go home with one of the staff members at night and will work five days a week at the school.

Even though she’s pretty exhausted from meeting her new friends, she’s ready to bring smiles to students.