TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Morgan Watt as the seventh Lightning Community Hero of the year during the first period of tonight's game against the Calgary Flames. Watt, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Southeastern Guide Dogs.
Watt served in the military as a security police first responder and a K-9 handler in which explosive detection, hyper vigilance and instant reaction were normal. In his second career as a pilot, he suffered underlying symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder that led him to end his career. After attending an open house event for Southeastern Guide Dogs, Watt was inspired by the idea of working with guide dogs. Watt has worked 1,198 hours for the Paws for Patriots program of Southeastern Guide Dogs and has personally helped veterans on their journey from post-traumatic stress to post-dramatic growth.
Today, Watt serves as a chair of the Paws for Patriots alumni group that will act as a support group to provide support to veterans and their service dogs, access issues and support for the entire family. He also speaks to community groups about handling service dogs along with speaking to veterans who are interested in receiving a dog to help mitigate symptoms of PTSD. His long-range goal is to bring awareness to the disease and then bring awareness to the importance of service dogs in post-traumatic growth.