'I've got a chance to live life'
Tammie remembers the 10 hours of eerie radio silence inside the KC-135 as she refueled combat air patrols over Houston on Sept. 11, 2001. An instructor navigator, Tammie had joined the Air Force in 1996, following a family tradition that went back three centuries. “I wanted to serve my country and do my bit,” she says. “It was the best job ever. You had the... Read More
'I didn't feel like I deserved to be alive'
The night terrors started soon after the IED attack in Iraq in 2006. Wil, a retired Mustang Naval Aviator and Intelligence Officer who served multiple combat tours, was the only one who survived the blast. “I was also the only one either without children or unmarried. I had a lot of guilt associated with that. I didn’t feel like I deserved to be alive.” Wil... Read More
'I wasn't as strong as I thought I was'
When Tim joined the Navy in 1996, he saw it as an opportunity to leave his small town and see the world. Five years later, the nation was at war. “Sept. 11 changed everything,” he said. By 2003, Tim began to experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress. “At the time, you didn’t ask for help. We didn’t understand PTSD. It was, ‘Hey, that sucks. You own on it.... Read More
'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. “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 when everything else... 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'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 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