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The story of service dogs, finally on the big screen at Cape Fear Independent Film Festival

When the war ends and soldiers return home, many of their battles are far from over. That's the subject of Project Home: The Next Battle, a new documentary that features the local nonprofit Canines for Service. The Cape Fear Independent Film Festival recently nominatedThe Next Battle for "Best Family Film."

"I had to watch the video before showing it to our team," said Pat Hairston, Canines for Service's program director. "I have cried my eyes out. 'Thank you' just is not enough to say."

Filmed in North Carolina and Virginia, Project Home: The Next Battle details how Canines for Service transformed three veterans' and their service dogs' lives. The film's release comes at a time when there are nationwide political discussions about the use of service dogs to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. The film was also accepted as the UK Monthly Film Fest's Best Documentary winner in March.

The Click & Pledge Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to tell the "untold stories," partnered with Canines for Service to film The Next Battle. Bethany Teague, the documentary's director and North Carolina native, described how excited she was for The Next Battle's nomination.

"When I learned that The Next Battle was selected, I felt extraordinarily grateful that this work had spoken and meant something to people that I have never even met," Teague said. "I hope that someone sees The Next Battle and decides to stand beside Canines for Service with their finances, time or services to save a life. These would be the greatest honors The Next Battle could receive."

The Cape Fear Independent Film Festival focuses on North Carolina filmmakers and subjects. This year's CFIFF is June 14-16 at the Wilmington Community Arts Center. The Next Battle will screen on Saturday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. A Q-and-A with the audience will directly follow the screening. Canines for Service will be available in the lobby that afternoon for a meet-and-greet and service-dog training demonstration.

Canines for Service is a North Carolina based non-profit corporation dedicated to empowering people with disabilities to achieve greater independence and enhanced quality of life. For over 21 years the group has trained and certified service dogs with the help of volunteers, provides pet therapy certification classes and helps children in our community improve their reading skills. Since its inception in 1996, Canines for Service has provided over $14 million in services to our community. The trailer for Project Home: The Next Battle is available at

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