Monday, August 1, 2011


Dawn is a private time. A time to reflect, breathe, and come to terms with those things interrupting your peace.  For me dawn provides a quiet peaceful time to reflect on a myriad of things. Without this time my day is a shambles. This morning with a cup of French Roast coffee in one hand and the other on the back of my therapy dog Gracie, I was thinking of the miracles that happen when man and dog collide.  Wonderful things, inexplicable things, lovely things, lifesaving things.

Isn't it true, that in the end, we all just want to find that one person who loves us, will stick by us, who will catch us when we fall.  That one person who makes us laugh when we want to cry and who will hold us when we hurt?  But it isn't always that easy is it? This is most assuredly true of our warriors returning with PTSD, having not been able to leave the horrors of war on the battlefield.  To them, once home their lives become battlefields. They are forever at war! Sounds trigger memories, families are torn apart, drugs and alcohol abuse is prevalent as is unemployment and isolation. PTSD has control!

 According to the ICAMI, the International Committee Against Mental Illness, it is estimated that more than half a million of our troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan alone will have some form of PTSD. Staggering isn't it? Even more staggering is the statistic that the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans dying at home is outpacing the number of combat deaths in the two wars combined, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs!! 

So can these warriors, carrying the bags of boulders on their back called PTSD, ever find peace? Can any of us?

Ramona Anderson said,  "People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace.  They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them.  The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within." But what about our warriors who go within and find chaos and hell instead of this happiness?

Surely there is the potential  of happiness, lack of the tremendous fear, and a sense of contentment for those who cry, those who hurt and those who are lost in the wilderness of their experiences in war.  And should this be doubted, I want you to hear the story of Jeremiah, just one of thousands of  warriors afraid to leave his home, be without his wife, go to the store, or trust. For him this quote stands firm.  For him just like thousands of veterans, courage is what it takes to face each day of their lives.  This one has a wife and children.  His wife has become his caregiver, all the while her husband is trapped in silence and isolation.

"Courage is not the absence of fear.  It's the presence of resolve, the presence of purpose." 

This is from Jeremiah's wife as she was waiting for her plane to take her home, leaving her husband in San Antonio with his TADSAW service dog in training , Gunny, to continue their journey toward independence.

Patsy, I didn't know if I would see you again and wanted to say thank you for everything. I am sad because I am leaving today but overjoyed with the improvements jeremiah has made with Gunny! I feel comfortable with leaving Jeremiah behind even though I cried yesterday really hard and of course choked back a couple of good cries with Bart! I wanted to give jeremiah independence and knew this would be good for him but then it hit me that he would not need me as much now. I wasn't sad because that's what we are here for  but at the same time got that "dropping your child off the first day of school syndrome"! 

It made me feel at peace leaving this time because Gunny will be watching his back when I have done it for so long. It is an odd feeling to feel overjoyed but sad at the same time. I felt better after  something really neat happened . Jeremiah was walking through the airport on a test run and never once looked back to see where I was. He walked with Gunny like they owned the place! I was in the rear due to my legs, and Gunny looked behind to see if I was there and every couple of paces he would look behind again. He got in front of jere as if to slow his pace down and then kept glancing back as if he was saying "no worries, I have him and we are waiting for you." He slowed down enough for me to catch up and walked in between us!  I knew then Gunny was special.

I wanted to tell you that we love gunny as if we have always had him. He watches jere like a hawk and comes to me for sugars and belly scratching. Jere told me on the fourth night "I love my dog. I hope patsy knows that".  In this week, jere only had two bad spells and gunny jumped up on him both times to get his attention and Jere was fine.

Also a worthy note was that Jere has not taken his night time meds since he has been here, the ones that make him dopey and lethargic. He  had absolutely no problems this week. I know thank you isn't enough for everything all of you have done, but hope to pay it forward one day. Gunny is special and a guardian angel and do hope you know it's like he has always been there or that we have had him!

So yes, for some,  there is happiness to be found and war to be put to rest.   For those warriors fortunate enough to find 'paws on the ground' to assist them in their battles, their lives can be controlled on a much better level.  Their lives are still rich with complications, but with a dog by their side the question as to who rescues who, is no longer pertinent.

 "I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark."
~Henry David Thoreau

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