Thursday, April 29, 2010


"Life is complicated - Teach me to wait patiently,
while my wings grow strong - I am in training for flight."
A Friend 
This handsome young man sat in the shadow of the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center on a gorgeous spring afternoon. The baby squirrels were playing on the patio, leaping from palm tree to palm tree with not a care in the world, as soldiers, seriously injured in a war worlds away, came and went from the Fisher Houses at Brooke Army Medical Center. Some with no legs, some missing an arm, most with a brain injury and or post traumatic stress disorder, many stooped and bent using walkers.  One soldier sat alone reading a book, smoking a cigarette, enjoying the peace of a beautiful afternoon in a world far away, yet all too close, to the one he had left.  Another struggled to open a door from his wheelchair and another grimaced, as he used a walker to manuver down the pathway returning from a day at the hospital.

A's hand was on Kelsie's head.  He wore a black protective helmet, for half of his skull was missing from a blast from an IED.  He had lost both legs.  His two buddies in the humvee died instantly.  He wheeled over to the patio table and joined my friend Karen and her lab, Chase, and my Kelsie and me.  Kelsie went up to him and didn't find it odd in the slightest that her new friend had no legs. She nestled her head softly and gently onto his stump as if she knew and looked up at him with adoring soft brown eyes and golden eyelashes.  A. melted, and as he melted he began to talk - apparently a much needed talk.

As the 'gunner in the vehicle,' the last thing he remembered was being in Afghanistan and trying to get his friends out of the  Humvee that had been blown up by an IED.  The next thing he remembered was waking up in Texas at BAMC and realizing his legs were gone.  First response - anger. Then he realized the thing that had bothered him the most about going to Afghanistan was the potential for losing a limb.  "I didn't know how I could survive that."

He did survive. I can guarantee you he survived for a purpose.  This young man will be, and as far as I am concerned, already is, an inspiration to others.  With Kelsie and Chase sleeping at his feet, oblivious to the plight of this 34 year old man, A. shared his story about his wife, his kids and his dogs at home.  It was cathartic for him.  It was a gift for us. 
His mind would wander off track occasionally, but he never stopped smiling.  Odd isn't it?  He praised his wife for being strong and there for him. He teased about how hungry he always is. 

We asked him what his feelings were about therapy dogs helping soldiers. He became somber as he said, "Okay here is what I think.  I think every soldier should have a therapy dog.  There would be less need for medicine, less need for alcohol, and more compassion. It would make a difference in all of their lives. Just sitting here with Chase and Kelsie has made a difference in mine. They don't care whether I have legs or not, they are simply peace. Many of us have lost all compassion."

"They are simply peace." Pretty much sums it up doesn't it?  I received an email from CPT D. in Iraq last night.  He is an OT deployed with the 85th Combat Stress Control Detachment in Iraq.  He visits all of the soldiers in the different units on their camp with a combat stress relief dog as part of their stress management treatment program in the Behavioral Health clinic.
He is asking for "dog shampoo, fur brushes, dog tooth brushes and toothpaste, healthy treats, new water and food bowls, and Hill's Science Diet dog foodAnd of course any sun protection items to keep the dogs cool and safe in the upcoming grueling summer heat." 

I am deviating from my normal format to ask for your help.  Please send any items to me and Penny's From Heaven Foundation will ship immediately!!  ASAP. 
His dog is 'dangerously low' on Hill's Science Diet Dog Food. 

We of course accept monetary contributions and we will purchase the items and send asap!  Your donation will go directly to this COMBAT STRESS RELIEF DOG IN IRAQ! 

Please send to:

13423 BLANCO ROAD -  SUITE 218

God Bless You and God Bless Our Troops!

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