'I'm looking forward to everyday life again'
Sarah’s grandfather served in the Pacific in World War II. When she told him her plans to carry on that tradition of military service, “he was absolutely excited,” she says. “He was also very supportive.” Sarah enlisted in the Army while still in high school as part of the National Guard’s split training option. Five years later, she was at war, supplying... Read More
'Fear won't rule me anymore'
When Valerie joined the Air Force in 2003, she was the first woman in her family to serve in the military. Over the next decade, she worked as an aerospace ground equipment craftsman at home and abroad, deploying to Kuwait and assisting in disaster relief efforts in Haiti. She was ultimately diagnosed with PTSD and struggled to leave home. “I’m considered... Read More
'A glowing light during times of pitch black'
For Marine Corps veteran Mike, his service dog Tesla is “a glowing light during times of pitch black.” These two were paired together in September 2021 to help Mike with symptoms of PTSD and bipolar disorder. “On a much deeper level, Tesla is a companion and battle buddy that is present 24/7 … she’s a teacher of affection, a source of comfort and sense of calm... Read More
Dawn spent 10 years in the Army as a combat medic, deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan where she often had to make split-second, life-or-death decisions. Even back home in the U.S., her brain continued to work that way. In public, she felt exposed. Loud noises startled her. “I would get angry and snap at my family members,” she says. Alone in stores, Dawn became... Read More
'I'm never alone'
After suffering a severe spinal cord injury while serving overseas in the Navy, Brian was faced with an early end to his career and a vastly different life. He was ultimately diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. Here's how his service dog, Colt, is helping him heal: “Before Colt, I barely left the house, not even to get groceries.... Read More
'A better life is out there'
"I knew I wanted to be a farmer. But I also wanted to go out and do something else. My grandfather served in World War II. I never knew him, but I heard stories about him, and I had an old chest with his uniform and things he brought back from the Philippines. I wanted to serve my country but it was also a way to connect with him. I was a junior in high school when 9/11... Read More
'I want to be a better version of myself"
Aaron is an Air Force Veteran who deployed seven times to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2008. After serving in the military, Aaron found his passion as an educator, and today he teaches middle school math and science. Aaron is the first teacher in his school district to have a service animal. With Gordy by his side, he hopes to be a better version of himself -- and... Read More
'I'm facing my issues instead of burying them'
“Before I went into the Marine Corps, I was very outgoing. I liked to meet new people. I was very ‘the-glass-is-always-half-full’ and I could find the best in every situation. When I got out, I had a very hard time trusting anyone. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t want to go do anything. I didn’t feel like talking to people. I went to the grocery store... Read More
'I just have a better outlook on life'
"I spent 21 years in the Army and deployed multiple times. I had anxiety and was diagnosed with PTSD and depression. When I saw what service dogs had done for other Veterans, I said to myself, ‘Maybe I should get a service dog.’ That was around 2012. But it was always discouraging. The organizations I reached out to told me there was a two-year waiting list, or I... Read More
"I'm able to be there for my family"
"I went into the Army right after high school in ‘98. Military service is kind of a family tradition and something I always wanted to do. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks split my career in half. Post-9/11 was a lot of deployment time. I was a psychological operations tactical team leader and took part in the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. In the 14 months we were in... Read More
"He's everything I hoped for"
"I didn’t have family in the military. It was just something I knew I was going to do since I was in the second grade. It was during the Cold War and I used to make little drawings of the U.S. against Russia and I always saw us winning and coming out on top. "I joined the U.S. Marine Corps when I was 22. I served four years as an infantryman and spent six months in Iraq.... Read More
"I'm ready for a new normal"
“I always wanted to join the Army. I come from a big military family: my grandfather, uncles, two brothers all served. My younger brother was a Marine who passed away while serving. He looked up to us, and joined not too long after I did. I spent seven years in the Army. I was in Iraq from 2010 to 2011. “I have PTSD, which causes a lot of panic attacks and anxiety. I... Read More
"I wouldn't be here without him"
"My post-traumatic stress comes from something other than war. It is the result of the actions of someone else in uniform. For years, I kept what happened really close. I drank and was numb for a long time. I was in pure survival mode. I had nightmares and flashbacks. I was to the point of disassociating pretty frequently and losing gaps of time. I would have to immensely... Read More
"Because of her existence, I can be better"
"I wanted to serve in the military. I decided to join the Navy, because that’s where my grandfather served during the Space Race. He died when I was 13, so I never really got a chance to ask him much about his service. But he and I were close, and I emulated everything he did. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks really confirmed my decision to go into the Navy. "I served... Read More
"I finally knew I was going to be OK"
"I wanted to join the Army when I was a little boy. My parents were very involved in the American Legion, and I always looked up to the men and women in uniform. I served from 2002 to 2007 as an infantryman and deployed twice to Iraq. Ten months into my second 12-month tour, I was shot by a sniper in the face and lost my right eye. Luckily, he was a little off on his... Read More
"I don’t think people understand how life changing it is"
“My grandfather was a World War II Veteran. He always told me, ‘If you don’t want to go to college, join the Navy. They’ll feed you three meals a day, put clothes on your back, provide a place to sleep and teach you a trade that will take you far in life.’ I took his advice. I joined the Navy on Sept. 5, 2000. It was great. The military was like family. "I was... Read More