Newsroom | 02 December 2013

Founder of Pets for Vets Wins Cigna GO YOU Award


Cigna Corporation
Judy Hartling, 860-226-6272


  • Facebook users chose Clarissa Black via an online poll
  • Grant money will be used to form new chapters

BLOOMFIELD, Conn., December 02, 2013 - The founder of Pets for Vets, a non-profit organization that matches shelter pets to armed forces veterans and trains them to be companion animals, has won the Cigna GO YOU Award.

Clarissa Black, an animal trainer, founded Pets for Vets after she visited VA Long Beach Health Care System veteran's health facility with her dog, Bear. She saw the positive effect a dog can have on veterans suffering from PTSD and other conditions. The organization now has 19 chapters in 17 states.

The GO YOU Award comes with a $50,000 Cigna Foundation grant for Pets for Vets. Black said she will use the money to form additional chapters in other states and to match more shelter pets to veterans.

"For us at Cigna, one of the best parts of the GO YOU Awards process has been connecting with individuals who've turned their personal passion into effective action. To know that Clarissa will now be using her GO YOU grant to transform that passion into better lives for even more of our veterans is especially exciting," said David Figliuzzi, executive director of the Cigna Foundation.

Facebook users chose Black as the GO YOU Award winner via an online vote held November 4 to 11. She was one of four nominees for the award, all of whom previously received $20,000 Cigna Foundation grants for their charities. Black and Pets for Vets won handily with 70 percent of the Facebook vote.

When informed of the results, Black said, "Bringing our brave veterans together with some wonderful animals is reward enough, but it's always energizing to know that people appreciate what Pets for Vets does. I want to thank everyone who voted, and to thank the other GO YOU Award nominees. We're all in this for the same reason: helping others!"

The GO YOU Award honors the pioneering spirit of innovative individuals who create or build nonprofit organizations that contribute to personal, family and community health. The award is an extension of Cigna's focus on encouraging people to be true to themselves and meeting their individual needs.

About Cigna and the Cigna Foundation

The Cigna Foundation is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) and its subsidiaries. The Cigna Foundation supports organizations sharing its commitment to enhancing the health of individuals and families, and the well-being of their communities, with a special focus on those communities where Cigna employees live and work. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit