Below is a great article about a program at the Wounded Warrior Battalion West – Detachment Hawaii where wounded warriors participate in helping train service dogs. I’m really happy to see more of these programs being implemented and expanding to other medical facilities to help our warriors as they go through the recovery process. I am a huge supporter of these programs as I had the privilege of watching how much warriors benefit from them after having worked at the WWBn – Detachment San Diego Naval Medical Center. It doesn’t take a doctor to tell you interacting with a dog can improve your morale. Thank you Hawaii Fi-Do for supporting our troops!!
Lance Cpl. Joshua Jablon has nightmares from time to time.
Fortunately, he has a new friend he can count on to wake him and offer him comfort when necessary. Through Hawaii Fi-Do, wounded warriors like Jablon are learning to heal, with some canine care.
Since July 15, Marines of Wounded Warrior Battalion West — Detachment Hawaii have been working with specially trained dogs from the local nonprofit organization in an effort to help the mental and emotional healing process for the warriors.
During the six-week program, wounded service members interact
and train with dogs for up to two hours. On average, about six to eight participants come to each session, and as many as 16 can come at a time. The service member must receive a referral from a mental healthcare professional to be eligible for the program.
What an incredible story behind an incredible organization. One of the grimm realities of war are the psychological issues veterans face when they come home. Dave Sharpe is one of those veterans and almost let PTSD get the best of him by holding a loaded gun in his mouth and was ready to pull the trigger when his 6 month old pit bull named Cheyenne came to his rescue. Dave refrained from pulling the trigger and has since put his energy into helping other veterans dealing with PTSD by providing pets through his organization called Pets 2 Vets. Read and watch the full story below.
For too many veterans, the battles don’t end when they come home from war. Combat stress has no easy cure. But one vet found peace was a lot closer than he thought and now he’s helping others find it, too. CBS News correspondent Chip Reid has his story.
Dave Sharpe calls his pit bull Cheyenne his savior, and that’s no exaggeration. When she was just a puppy, she saved his life
Sharpe served with the U.S. Air Force security forces in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. After two near-death experiences, he returned home with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Before I met her, I was a wreck,” said Sharpe. “I was out of control, I would start fights for no reason.”
Deeply depressed and filled with rage, he decided to end his misery with his pistol.
“[I] cocked it back, put it right in my mouth and I sat there and cried for about a minute or two,” Sharpe recalled. “I was this close to pulling the trigger.”
That’s when Cheyenne, who was then six months old, came to his rescue.
A great story about a great organization called Helping Hounds located in Pennsylvania. Most of the breeds being used as service dogs and therapy dogs have been Labradors and Retrievers, it’s great to see an English Springer Spaniel being used. To make it even better, it is a rescue dog. Great job by Helping Hounds, please read and share stories like these to help spread the great work rescue dogs can be in helping our veterans!
Service dog ‘saved life’ of Mechanicsburg veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder
When Douglas Maugans is plagued by nightmares of war, he can always count on Tanner to wake him up.
The 5-year-old English springer spaniel presses the touch pad on Maugans’ nightstand with his nose to turn the light on, gets up on his master’s chest and lies there for as long as he’s needed.
Douglas Maugans of Mechanicsburg, who has post-traumatic stress disorder, worked in air traffic control with the Army National Guard. He has a special bond with Tanner, whom he taught to be a service dog with training from Helping Hounds.(Beth Anne Heesen, The Patriot-News)
Two years ago, Tanner became a medical service dog through Helping Hounds, a program sponsored by the Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance of Mechanicsburg, which works out of an airplane hanger at the Capital City Airport in Fairview Township.
Volunteers teach veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to train their dogs.
Maugans saved Tanner from a rescue shelter in New Orleans four years ago, and now Tanner was ready to save his master.
Amazing report bringing awareness of how Pit Bulls can help veterans cope with PTSD. Pit Bulls tend to have a bad reputation when it comes to their temperament but that is only if they are trained incorrectly. They can be incredible companions just like any other breed. Thank you Pit Bulls 4 Patriots for providing such a valuable service to our troops!
When we did a story last year on what a boon dogs are becoming for troops coming home from the wars with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Luis Carlos Montalvan was one of the soldiers we interviewed. He served as an Army captain in Iraq, where he garnered the Combat Action Badge, two Bronze Stars, and the Purple Heart — as well as a case of PTSD. As often happens, our conversation ended up on the cutting room floor. But Montalvan gets the last word: he has just published Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him. Here’s a recent email exchange between Montalvan and Battleland:
Why did you write this book?
Until Tuesday was written because, after having been in the darkest depths of PTSD — where I wasn’t quite suicidal but often felt death would be a relief — I know how valuable information is. In those days, it was often internet-based stories and messages from other suffering veterans that helped me through. With Until Tuesday, I wanted other veterans to understand that their symptoms are real; their struggles are shared; and that there is help and hope—even if the VA is letting them down over and over again. I also wanted the family members of veterans better understand that their loved ones are dealing with. There are 18 suicides a day among veterans. I’d do anything to help prevent that tragedy. The book also, in the end, turned out to be very effective therapy for me—even though it was the most difficult and painful therapy I’ve ever endured.
How does Tuesday help with your daily life?
He helps me with daily physical tasks, like picking things up and balancing on stairs, but more importantly he is my constant companion. I was very prone to panic-attacks, agoraphobia, flashbacks, and “gray outs” where I would lose track of where I was or what I was doing.
Tuesday keeps me in the moment. He is trained to monitor my breathing and heart rate, so he can nudge me back to reality before a situation starts. I was also prone to hyper-vigilance; now, I can put my hand on Tuesday and feel calmness returning to me mind. That may not sound like much, but for the two years before I adopted Tuesday, I was too paranoid and withdrawn to leave my apartment. I lived like a hermit, cut off even from my family. Tuesday has helped me reconnect with the world.
How do dogs help vets with PTSD and other problems?
Many veterans have serious physical problems, and their service dogs help them function. My friend, Mary, for instance, had both arms blown off above the elbow by an IED; her dog Remy performs many of her daily tasks. But for all veterans, I think, the companionship and unwavering support mean the most. So many veterans are isolated and withdrawn when they return. A dog is a way to reconnect, without fear of judgment or misunderstanding.
Are dogs being used widely enough to help troops such as yourself? Why or why not?
I wish more trained dogs were being used to help veterans, because I know they save and transform lives. With so many suicides, not to mention divorces, alcohol problems, and wrecked lives, how can we say we are doing enough of anything for our veterans? Information about dogs like Tuesday is a big problem—one I hope the book helps correct—but money is another. It’s expensive to train a service dog, and dedicated people like Lu Picard at ECAD [Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities] (who trained Tuesday) need more resources and support.
So many wounded warriors have wounds that are visible but so many more have inner wounds like PTSD and TBI that are just as important to treat. Thanks to the organization, This Able Veteran, a new Veterans Affairs facility will have another tool to treat veterans and their battles with these issues. Teddy, a service dog that will be their new “therapist.”
Service Dog will help veterans at new Marion VA PTSD facility
By Carly O’Keefe-KFVS12
After experiencing the horrors of war, the newly constructed Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Facility will be a safe place for veterans.
It’ll be a one-of-a-kind program in the U.S. with a very unique member of the staff that doctors hope will help veterans reclaim their lives from PTSD and depression.
A dog named Teddy will be their guardian, their friend, and in a way – their therapist.
Our troops face so much stress in combat, but for some, they may face stress within their own units. Soldier Tracy Cooper-Harris had to endure both. After serving honorably, and transitioning back to the civilian world, a lot of the stress and tough memories carried on with her. Thanks to her rescue dog turned service dog, Blaze, life has become less stressful and more joyful, for the both of them.
US Army Iraqi War veteran Tracey Cooper-Harris takes a break with Blaze during his training at the Sam Simon Foundation in Malibu, Ca. Blaze began his training with Assistance Dog Program Instructor Lori Ramey several months earlier before Harris began working with Ramey and Blaze. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)
They’re a team now, best friends – the tall, good-looking rescued dog and the Iraq War veteran battling post-traumatic stress disorder.
Wherever Tracey Cooper-Harris goes these days she knows Blaze has her back.
He’s the eyes in the back of her head. Her 24-hour protector and comfort blanket, all rolled into one. He’s her hero.
Lori Ramey, a trainer for the Sam Simon Foundation, which provides rescued dogs for the deaf, found Blaze sitting alone in a kennel at the Ventura County Animal Shelter in Camarillo early last year.
He was a stray found wandering the streets. Shelter workers told her he was probably a backyard dog with little or no human contact. They put his age at around a year and named him Blaze for his bright red coat.
“He was so calm and composed just sitting there, exactly the kind of dog I was looking for,” Ramey said.
Her job for the Simon Foundation was to find the perfect dog to train as a psychiatric service dog for an Army veteran suffering from PTSD.
Ramey wanted Blaze, but there was one problem. So did a lot of other people. The shelter held a lottery.
“Every once in awhile, fate intervenes,” Ramey said. “I won.”
It didn’t take Blaze long to show his real colors once she sprung him from the shelter. He wasn’t the mellow dog Ramey thought he was.
“He began jumping on everything in sight, grabbing anything he could get in his mouth, and wildly running around chasing
squirrels and birds,” she said.
“He had conned me. All that calm demeanor was a lie.”
It took Ramey almost a year to calm Blaze down and teach him the tasks Cooper-Harris would need done.
To stand behind her at the ATM and make sure nobody got too close to her on the streets. To turn on the lights in her apartment so she wouldn’t be walking into a dark room at night, the worst time for her.
To find her cellphone and keys and bring them to her in case there was an emergency and she couldn’t get them.
To become her Man Friday.
While Ramey trained Blaze, Cooper-Harris spent her days going to classes at California State University, Northridge, before heading over to the Sepulveda VA for her PTSD counseling sessions with doctors.
By December of 2010, it was finally time for Blaze and Cooper-Harris to meet. It was love at first sight. Blaze jumped all over her, licking her face, his tail frantically wagging, knocking over everything in sight.
“It was like fate decided these two should be together,” Ramey said.
In April, after three months of hard work at the foundation in Malibu bonding with Blaze, Cooper-Harris brought him home to her apartment in Pasadena.
“He’s my de-stresser, my constant physical reminder that I’m here in the present, and not to let my mind wander back to the past,” she said last week.
“When I wake up in the middle of the night the first thing I look for is Blaze. He’s usually knocked out in the corner snoring. But just seeing him there makes me feel safe and stay in the present, not the past.”
read the rest of the article by clicking here…Daily News