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 housebound,” she says. In public, “my heart starts racing. I get shaky and jittery. I want to cry. It’s full-system overload.”
When Valerie felt her children were beginning to pick up on her anxiety, she decided to seek out a service dog to help with symptoms. “I want a better life for my kids. I don’t want my anxiety to impact them anymore.”
Valerie was paired with service dog Jenny in Leashes of Valor’s first all-female class. “This is the most I’ve been out in years. I’m looking forward to being able to go to the grocery store, to taking my kids to shop for summer clothes. Jenny represents freedom. Fear won’t rule me anymore.”