Monday, November 24, 2014

Not just a thank you!

Veteran rant

I've been remiss in my blogging due to medical issues and for that I apologize.  Today I'm going to be going off the normal track and rant a bit on some of my thoughts on Veterans rights.  I'm amazed at the number of people that are aware of veterans issues now compared to the past years. Unfortunately the awareness has not led to a "mission accomplished" in fixing the homeless or suicide issues that face our nation.

My rant is not really with these issues this is part of my mission as you all already know. My rant has more to do with the feeling that I get from some veterans of being owed special treatment and sometimes even a air of arrogance when dealing with civilians and their businesses.  Don't get me wrong I love a discount as much as anyone out there but to expect that a business owner will give me a discount because I'm a veteran is absurd in my eyes.  My feelings on the subject is that if someone is gracious enough to offer me something I should be grateful not just accept it as it is owed to me. 

I served this country for personal reasons not for accolades from the public. When someone approaches me and offers their thanks I'm uncomfortable to be honest. Watching the news and other sites around the country with all the stolen valor issues that come up nowadays I get annoyed but to be honest the only reason it happens is because of the respect that veterans are getting as a whole today. It is human nature to copy our heroes and today our heroes are real and wear uniforms so just like those little children growing wearing camouflage and playing soldier there will always be a few cowardly adults that look for adulation without the work especially when there's a free meal or a discount available. 

So what am I getting at here? As a veteran I can only speak for myself but I would ask all veterans to look within themselves and take inventory of how they are viewed in private and public.  Remember that just because we are not wearing a uniform any longer it does not mean that we don't have a responsibility to maintain the honor that we all learned as a member of a team while serving. Remember what made us special inside because service was special to me and that's why I served and continue to find ways to serve today. It is not because I'm looking for accolades discounts or anything else other than that something special inside of me. 

If this touches anyone great I hope that it renews the commitment to serve that we all have and that your able to find a channel such as the American Legion, VFW or some other civic organization that will allow you to teach others why and how to carry that message on to our young.

What path are you on? 

Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Why we do what we do?

Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

 So often people come up and thank me for all that I have done yet I then get questions about why do I do what I do.  It does not really make a lot of sense to me so today's blog (rant) is going to be a bit off the normal what's up and more about the why.

Every person has to have a place where they can feel comfortable, for me that place is inside my heart.  I have had to do things in my life that I am not all that happy with on reflection but have come to grips with the fact that they needed to be done.  Getting right with oneself is probably one of the hardest things we all have to do in our lives or at least it is for me.  Yes I use the present tense because it is a daily task not something that is done once and finished.   So how do I go about this process for me?  One word, Forgiveness, that's right simple little thing and I am not talking about saying I am sorry.  I am not talking about asking for forgiveness either.  Yes there is a piece of that in there but the reality is that forgiveness is an inside job.  “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

Now that the brick of my wall has been made let's start to build the foundation of my life.  Back in the first paragraph I mentioned my wonderment or conundrum with all the thanks for what I have done with little understanding of why I do what I do.  That "Constant Attitude" of forgiveness requires an action not just an "Attitude" or so I have learned through my life's experiences.  Nothing I have ever done without action has ever had any lasting meaning in my life, everything required action not just a thank you or an I'm sorry but a change in my behavior and attitude.  

So when I was retired from the Army due to medical issues I failed to see it as a blessing and a second chance, what I saw was a slap in the face and a dismissal without a real chance to prove I could actually continue on as a soldier.  I set out to prove I could be successful in the civilian community with all the vigor of a soldier and very little understanding of the gift of life I was actually given.  In time I was slapped again with more complications that did put me on my knees and caused me to almost take my life.  I point this out not for the fact that I was so depressed because of what was going on but to point out how selfish I had become.  I had been given two amazing children and a wife that even though I was so self consumed in my own world stood beside me yet I wanted out, to take a forever solution to a problem that only required me to ask for my own forgiveness and forgive others. 

The act of forgiveness is the key to the change the way I live my life today.  I do what I do today because I was given a future not a past that is bright.  My hand and my mind have to reach out to others that have to travel the same roads I have traveled not to make their road easier but to allow them to understand there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train or a truck barreling down on them.  The hope that comes from forgiveness comes from within not from others.  What comes from others in the end is the understanding that the only way to continue forward is to do what you can everyday.  Never quit as Winston Churchill said once as his speech for a graduation once, then when asked to ad more he said ok Never, Never Quit. 

Sometimes I like to over complicate and have to remind myself that the real trick is to over simplify and enjoy the outcome.  No one has all the answers but when we stop and enjoy the sunsets and all that life has to offer.

Now for the house keeping.  The month of September has been a mellow month for travels for me.  More just medical stuff with a few unplanned issues that came up.  Nothing to get to worried about that is for sure, just took some time to slow down and let my body relax a little.  The month of October is going to be a busy month for sure with a few holidays and memorials happening.  For those that were in during the Beirut timeframe that is going to be remembered right here in the quiet corner again this year.  Please take a moment to say a prayer for those that were taken from us that day on Oct 23. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Iris Peanut Butter Kiss Challenge

The month of Aug was so busy I have jumped straight into September!  The month of September is National Service Dog Month So I wanted to do something special and out of the ordinary.  I know nothing I do is very ordinary but this time I think I really stepped out of the box for even me.

Consider yourself challenged my friends That link goes to my YouTube channel where Iris gives me a big ole kiss! Take a moment go check out the video if you have not seen it.  I am not a great videographer and was pretty tired when I made the video but I hope the point was made.  I challenge everyone to support America's VetDogs and help take this challenge Viral.  I figure if we can raise at least 50,000 dollars then we will have raised enough to support one dog team that is a Veteran and a dog like myself. 

A simple challenge $10 or $50 is all it takes and then challenge as many people as you want.  Don't let it die before we reach the goal.  

Now for the rest of the news.  Iris and I went to North Carolina to partake in the National American Legion Convention.  Wow did we have a great time this year!  I have to admit that now that I am getting involved with this great organization I am learning about all the activities the legion does and wish I had more time and energy.  To mingle with people from all over this great country and see how they are changing lives one person at a time is just wonderful.  Our country is still the greatest place in the world not because of our land but because of our people.  

We had the opportunity to speak to so many people about VetDogs while we were there that I actually lost my voice.  Now that is a first.  

The down side to the trip to NC is that we got news that My Mother in Law had to go in for surgery so we were blessed to have my wifed flown down in time to spend sometime with her prior to the surgery and I was able to drive across the state the day of the surgery and be there when she came out.  Things do work out when I let go and let God.  The good news is she is on the mend and all is good there.  My wife was then able to do the drive home with me which was much longer then I would have liked but traffic just seems to be getting worse now a days.  (maybe I am just getting older and less able to deal with it. )

We stopped on the way home at The National SeaShore which is where the pictures for this current blog were taken.  

The month of September I do not have much planned other then to promote the challenge which has already taken off and needs your support so please either go to my Facebook or Google + or the YouTube and link your Challenge Videos showing your Peanut butter kisses or a challenge where your donating $50 because you did not want to get the kiss!  Either way works as long as we keep the challenge rolling.  

Thank you all for being great Americans!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Trains and NYC

Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

We made the front page of the website!
Click here to hear the part of the radio show that we were involved with.  It is about 15 minutes long

Yes Iris has been in high demand over the past few weeks.  We have been traveling and doing all sorts of things.  From the Moosup VJ Day Parade, were we took pictures so the CT Legion would have good pictures for their history to meeting with Congressman Joe Courtney.  We were able to bring up a few of the issues that surround many of the veterans that live out here in the quiet corner.

 The train ride into NYC last week was an experience that I would wish on no one.  The best way to pass on what happened is to cut and past some of the conversations from my Facebook post.  Let me set the scene:  We boarded the train in OldSaybrook CT on an Amtrak ticket.  They knew I was traveling on a handicap ticket purchased via the GuideDog Foundation travel office, so there was no question as to whether Iris was a certified Service Dog.  Now for my posts from the day.

Facebook Aug 14, 2014

On the train! So what right, well I agree except you have to love America and Americans who want to take their little rat dogs to NYC with them comfortably. This women dresses up her rat dog as a service dog then takes up a special seating area which is normal for Amtrak but the moment iris and I walk into the car to sit next to her the rat dog jumps out of the suitcase and starts accosting iris. Lucky for us the conductor was there and immediately made the lady and dog move and I guess the next stop they are being removed from the train and amtrak is pressing charges. The person admitted to it not being a service dog once it started becoming uncontrollable. People wonder why we (people that have service dogs) get questioned it is because of people like that that break the rules.

Comment - Poor Iris! I'm sure she conducted herself as we would all expect. Hopefully the rest of your ride will be uneventful!

Response - Iris was was perfect as she was supposed to be the vicious little rat thing was out of control.

Comment - I had a problem when I took Katie (their svc dog) to radio city. I had to show her papers and they called the foundation to verify them

Response - By law their not allowed to do that but to be honest I have no problem showing papers on Iris. The law is to easy to circumvent in my opinion and just like a prescription is required for a drug having a license for a service dog is not something I personally am against. I have to have a license to drive or carry a weapon and some of these dogs being passed off as service animals can be vicious towards people and other animals. Nothing is perfect but a number of times over the past three years I have encountered situations like this and it is a tough one to deal with. 

When Iris is in rest mode being a dog not dressed and me not paying attention she will bark and get loud wanting to play. She is a dog. All dogs will be dogs at times but in public the handlers are responsible. I know when I'm less then healthy I need help in keeping iris up to snuff but that is why I have her also because I do fall into the less then healthy category sometimes. (I know hard to believe I would admit to that right)
This thread went on for some time, essentially we covered the topic of registration as a means of slowing down the impostors and I wanted to put it in the blog because it is a topic that I do believe needs to happen at some point.  I know there are many in the working dog community that are against it just like there are many in the gun rights movement that are against registration there.  It is a heated topic.   There is no right answer at the moment that will make everyone happy but as long as the ADA laws are so easy to circumvent a simple registration seems to be the answer to me.  ok I will get off my soapbox.

The camper is loaded and the route is planned.  Wed morning Iris and I will be loaded into the truck for a LONG trip to Charlotte, NC where we will be attending the National American Legion Convention.  It is not my first legion convention but it is the first time I am going to be there not only to represent VetDogs but also to be a part of the CT delegation while they proudly escort the new National president of the Auxiliary who is from CT.  I am looking forward to being more involved with both these great organizations and hope that their missions continue to overlap and help veterans recover.

Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Explosive times for sure

Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

The month of July has been packed with all sorts of activity that is for sure.  CT had their State Convention for the American Legion and it was the first time I actually went to one of these not just to advocate about Service Dogs but also as a member and a delegate.  This was an eye opener for me and also very enjoyable time.  So what did I take from it personally, are you all ready for this, I am not doing enough.  That's right, I personally need to do more to help other Veterans and Americans as a whole.  I have a voice and a talent with my photography so I will be offering up my services wherever possible to help our great country continue to be great.

Some of the things that I will be doing is I have volunteered to be the official photographer for the State Department meaning that when there are photos needed I will do what I can to capture and help the state Historian save the moments for our records.  The second weekend of Aug is a perfect example the Legion has a long history with Legion baseball and the Northeast Playoff's are being held in Middletown, CT so I will be heading over to shoot action photos in case anyone would like to ride along.  That same weekend just around the corner there is another event that will be a great time to stop in at if your looking for something to do and Baseball is not your thing.  The Legion Riders of CT are gathering in Meriden to have there kickoff picnic bash for their ride to the Nationals.  They will be raising funds for scholarships and other organizations.  Yes VetDogs is on the list of organizations they will be raising money for so come on out and support these patriotic riders as they prepare for this long ride to Charlotte, NC.

Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

In the last Blog entry I spoke of my kids birthdays and now I have a son who is getting ready to leave the nest.  Oh how time flies.  I am so proud of both my children for all they do and just wanted to mention them here because they both have their own life but continue to find time in their own busy life to help support me in my mission to help raise awareness of veteran issues and helping others.  My son competed in the Granite State Strong Man Championships and took third place in his class.  This was the first time he had placed in an event like this and the best part was this particular event had picked America's VetDogs as one of the charities they were supporting this year.  Hats off to all that were involved and I am so sorry that my travel plans got messed up and I did not get back from a trip to Western PA in time to capture this all in pictures.  Next year!

The future for Iris and I looks so busy and that is a great feeling.  For those that get the old Military Channel now the American Hero Channel there is a Saturday morning show called Saving Hero's where they featured the dogs from America's VetDogs as Hero's.  Iris and I were interviewed a couple weeks ago for that and the show should be one of the next couple Sat mornings at 0900 in the morning.  Not to worry if you don't have the channel you are able to watch it online just google Saving Hero's AHC.  I am just so grateful that Iris is getting her due for the work she does.

We will be heading south to Charlotte NC for the National Convention so other then Facebook entries we will probably have a month again between now and the next blog entry.  Till then have a blessed time and enjoy the gifts you have been given.

Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

Monday, July 7, 2014

New Title, Same Mission & some rants

Here is a link to a great link for Iris and hopefully the VetDog Programs Awareness.  Torklift Hero Program

As the summer months finally take hold and heat up it is good to remember that we are not alone out there.  Having just weathered our first hurricane of the season I hope it is not a sign of the season to come.  The storm itself was not bad at all for this area but the turmoil of the timing and earliness in the season just seemed to get everyone around us into a state.

There was a lot of noise about fireworks this year, I normally do not sound off on feelings about issues like this but for some reason this year I feel the need to.  I personally do not care for fireworks, that does not mean that I want to ban them and hope that everyone would stop firing them off because I don't care for them.  When my kids were younger I even made a big deal out of taking them to the biggest shows we could find because they deserve to enjoy the pastime of the 4th of July's we all grew up enjoying.  My dislike for them is personal and therefore I deal with it on a personal level.  As an animal lover & a service dog user I see first hand the way many animals react to fireworks also.  I would ask that each and everyone of us out there take special care of our 4 legged friends out there during the times we Americans celebrate our freedoms.

Enough of the soap box.

There are so many opportunities to serve our fellows coming up in the next few months.  Personally I find Iris and myself getting more involved with the American Legion here in Eastern CT.  Post 111 in Woodstock to be exact.  This small post which resides in a historical one room school house off the green near the fairgrounds is a great little post.  We are looking to grow the post with new members so if you want to learn more about us come visit us on the 3rd Wed of every month for our meeting.

This weekend coming the Ct State Department American Legion Convention will be going on.  I have volunteered to help where I can with the States Website.  Web Design is not my specialty that is for sure but having a warm body willing to do work is better sometimes then having people that are great at what they do with no desire to do it.  There is also a Post 111 FaceBook page please go check it out and like it.  

For those of you that have followed this blog for a while you probably noticed I have a title for the page.  It may not be the final name but I am working on making a change and growing things a bit here.  Up until now I have been without any guidance or knowledge as to what I am doing here.  Sort of one of those blind man walking in the middle of a black out, not even a blind leading the blind scenario.  I have run into a few people now that have offered to help guide me so hopefully the quality of the blog will get better soon.

So whats coming next for the dog days of summer.  Well the CT Dept Convention
is this weekend coming. 10-13 July.  Then Both my Children have Birthdays this month of July.  July 26th New Hampshire Strongmen and Women will be gathering to compete in the Granite State Championships which many of you might ask "why am I mentioning" well not only is my son Dan competing but this group not only has huge muscles but big hearts.  They have adopted America's VetDogs as one of their Charities so Iris & I will be there to cheer Dan and the rest of them on in there quest to move mountains and hearts.

Last but not least in the summer months I can tell you that I hope to get lots and lots of camping in. As many days at the beaches and forests as possible.  I am still on for the trip down to Charlotte, NC for the National American Legion Convention also.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Racking up the miles!

Here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

The past couple weeks have been great times for Iris and I.  We have had some camping and some education along with a lot of spreading the word about service dogs and what a life changer they can be.  Not only that but we have been able to pass on how important getting out there to raise funds for raising these wonderful animals is also.

When I last posted the Blog we had visited the Mass state park Horse Neck Beach.  What a great spot to camp at.  To bad it is so popular but when there are spots open over there you can expect to find Jen and I.  Since then Iris and I have completed CT's American Legion College where the current leaders help train and teach newer legion members to take on leadership roles.  It was an eye opener for me and I was also very pleased to find out that they are very open to finding ways to help with service dogs for veterans also.  I am definitely looking forward to the State and National conventions coming up soon.  In the meantime I look forward to starting up a Facebook Page for my Legion Post (Coming very soon) and helping bring the states website back from what has been described as a terrible state of disrepair. Anyone out there interested in helping with some web design project stuff let me know.

With barely a moment to blink Iris and I left the Legion College and drove down to one of our nations oldest and proudest colleges ever produced.  West Point, The U.S. Army Military Academy where we were able to work with the Warrior Transition Command and many active and Veterans with varied disabilities training to compete in a number of adaptive sports.  Many of these men and women had never given a thought about having a service dog so being able to meet and greet with them letting them see Iris at work was a very positive experience. The time spent there meeting with the command also along with the permanent party at West Point was a great time.  We camped up at the MWR Campsite above the post proper enjoying the quiet of a cell free area.   

I did have some free time to get a few neat pictures one foggy morning that I have shared here in the blog. Enjoy!  I enjoyed the history associated with the post and look forward to the next time I can go visit and see more. 

Upon leaving West Point we traveled through the Catskills up to Syracuse NY to spend a few days with the NY State VFW Convention.  This is the second year that Iris and I have been asked to speak to them and this year it was great.  The State of NY VFW has adopted Iris as one of their own along with me, adding me to their roles of a member of their VFW. 

Both the VFW and the Women's Aux have adopted VetDogs as one of their projects to support again this year and I can not thank them enough for this support.  Hopefully statewide that support will continue to grow and more and more dogs will be able to be brought into the program to help future veterans in need.  Continued support from our nations VSO's is a great way to show the civilians of this nation that we support our own but really need everyones support.

Tomorrow morning I will leave to head down to Smithtown where the history channel will be filming a show about saving our heroes.  My understanding is they want to see the service dogs working so Iris gets to be a star again.  She is such a ham oh wait should I say dog?

 I want to thank everyone for all the support they give please take a moment go check out the  page let all your friends and family know about it.  We are already over 10k would love to hit 20k by the end of the summer but I need your help.

Also if you want to help with gas feel free to check out some of my pictures at that is how I pay for most of my travels with the Legion, VFW or DAV events I do personally.  I would also like to point out I am getting more active with both the local Legion and VFW to increase membership because we need those members and numbers to be counted to have a solid presence in DC.  The VSO's do so much in helping to keep our veteran and disabled benefits strong. Even if your not willing to take a leadership role please join and be counted stand tall with your brothers and sisters showing your unity.

 Thank you

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Busy time of year

As always here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

As the summer months begin so to the summer convention and conferences begin.  This is the time that we get an opportunity to get in front of larger groups to show first hand how service dogs change lives.  The coming weeks will have me traveling the road more then ever which is exactly why I wanted to get the RV decked out and ready for everything.  It is hard for some people to understand how nice it is to be able to use my own bed every evening while traveling and to be able to relax and see the country while enroute to meet these amazing people.  All I can say is that by not having to fly or deal with the daily grind of hotel security I am so much more relaxed and at peace.  Not only that I get to meet so many more people and introduce them to Iris and explain how she has changed my life.

A birdy told me that over the next few weeks I would be traveling to 4 or 5 events.  These events will have me cruising throughout New England and Western New York.  I personally am very much looking forward to Getting more involved with the leadership here in CT's American Legion this weekend.  Right after that is done I have an opportunity of a lifetime.  I have been invited to go down and be a part of the Warrior Trials taking place at West Point, NY.  This event invites disabled soldiers from all over the country to compete in all sorts of athletic events. 

I am looking forward to being there to not only spread the word to potential applicants for service dogs but also just be a part of such a great time where our nation is coming together applauding these hero's for all they do not focusing on what they can no longer do.  Life is about moving forward and this event is surely a stage to prove that nothing can hold someone down if they don't focus on the negatives that have been handed to them.

From there I will be trekking northwest to Syracuse for the NY State VFW convention, where I will be able to part-take again in a group that focuses on healing and moving forward. I had the pleasure of working with this group last year and their commitment to helping their fellow brothers is second to none and I am proud to be invited to be a part of their group.

After 8 days on the road I will head back home for some much needed time with the family. There will be a few day trips through the month of June as VetDogs places their first Puppies into the Prisons in Central CT, Yippie!!! This has been a longtime coming but is finally coming to fruition and we are all so excited.

As of now, the 4th of July plans are in limbo but I am sure as always things will come up and fill in as they are supposed to.  It never fails that I am placed in the right place at the right time to do what is needed.  They joy of being a messenger is I do not have to make the plans I just have to be willing to go when called.

So on a happy note our Son Dan, Graduated from College a few weeks ago and is moving on with his life.  He plans on getting married to an amazing young lady in 2015. More to come on that as the time draws near.  

Until then Jen and I have found another great beach camping site called Horseneck Beach State campground, we hope to visit there often and we are planning a few trips to New Hampshire also this summer for some mountain camping. 

As always here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May Showers

As always here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

As the month of May flies by it is time hard to keep up with everything that is going on.  Hopefully everyone had a chance to visit the last blog entry to see the great time we had in Annapolis, MD with the 5k.  The totals from the event have not been released as of yet as far as I know but the estimated numbers I heard put the amounts raised in the 50-55k range.  That is just amazing if you ask me.  I can not say thank you to every single person out there that has help in any way with this and any other event.  Every dollar raised helps a veteran get one step closer to a service dog. 

For those that don't know the difference a service dog makes in the lives of our nations veterans please take a few moments to read my thank you to America's VetDogs for my service dog.  I will post it at the end of this update in hopes that you will get a better understanding of why it seems I so committed to helping VetDogs with moving forward with their mission on a daily basis.  I know it seems I am constantly fishing for fundraising for them (yes I know I spent a few days at the beach and took some fishing pictures so I had to find a way to word them into the blog ;). 

As always here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

So what else has been going on?  There was a North East Truck Camper Rally in Mystic Ct.  A great time was had by all.  Many new friends were met and of course Iris stole the show.  It is amazing how many veterans live the Truck Camper lifestyle.  I could not stay the entire time there because my future daughter in-law or as I like to say it in-love, graduated from WSU on Sat morning.  Many Congratulations go out to Laura for a job well done and good luck in you search for a teaching job.

In my search to stay active and busy I have changed my post with the American Legion to Post 111 in Woodstock Ct. and have signed up to attend the CT legion college so that I can learn more about the comings and goings of how the leadership works inside the legion.  It is time for me to take a more active role in the community and the Legion is a great avenue for me to be able to do that.  

With Memorial Day coming this weekend I hope that everyone remembers the reason they are given the time off from work.  Take some time and remember those hero's that gave their all so that we could live freely and speak what we feel.   

Ok now for the thank you letter I wrote to America's VetDogs.  If this touches your heart please remember that my words are but one persons and that there are many who can not find the words or the way to pull themselves out of the despair they are living in.  We as a nation need to do more then just pay lip service to the lost veterans who are not just failing to do well by themselves but are taking their lives at an unacceptable rate of 33 suicides a day.  You may not have much to give but a pebble makes a ripple and that ripple makes a difference.  Find a way to make a difference. 

How America’s VetDogs changed my life? How can one put into words something that mere words cannot express? When I medically retired from the Army I felt the pain of rejection and failure because I could no longer do what I was trained to do. It was because of that same training though that I found a way to go forward.

A few years after my retirement, this nation was brutally attacked and all I could do was watch from the sidelines. This was the trigger that caused something to snap in my head and started me crawling into the hole that would become so dark I would almost lose everyone that ever cared for me. The feeling of failure and deep depression welled up inside of me knowing all those years I stood proudly in the Army, serving with many of the same soldiers that would now go and fight for our Country yet again while I was forced to watch, totally useless. Having been the sharp edge of the sword as one of the best of the best, Airborne Infantry Ranger, then Special Forces, only to find that I could no longer do my job because I was physically unable was almost too much to bear. The anger of the past along with the continued progression of my malady continued to eat away at my self worth.

By the time my doctors recommended that I look into getting a service dog I was toying with the open end of my 45 everyday. I felt like a prisoner in my home, unable to function, needing someone to watch me like I was a baby, I could not leave without an escort. The loss of my driver’s license because of seizures had such an impact that I gained weight and lost interest in everything.
When I showed up at the America’s VetDogs campus I was terrified . This dog I was about to meet could change my life. I had seen other brothers that had found something that allowed them to go forward and now I was going to meet my pup, my hope of moving forward.

Iris, a small dog by all accounts, a 60 pound black lab mix with brown eyes, looked up at me and my fear disappeared. She proceeded to get sick, allowing me the opportunity to take care of her, and our bond was formed. Five days later, Iris would wake me for the first time to stop a seizure. Since that time she continues to alert me of health issues, calls the ambulance, has brought my family back together, stopped me from becoming a statistic, and has helped me have a goal in life again.

Iris not only helps with the physical issues that I have, she has helped with everything I come in contact with. Her being with me everywhere I go opens conversations that I would have never have engaged in before her. My PTSD has been held in check, but when it does rear its ugly head she is right there either pulling me to a safe place or crawling into my lap to pull me back to the present. When I have nightmares, she wakes me up and for some reason I never come up swinging like I do with people. We are truly a team that is there for each other, no questions, just like being in a foxhole.

I am 100% disabled and not allowed to work which allows me to dedicate my time to finding ways to raise awareness and money so that other veterans who need service dogs will be able to experience the joys I have. Recently I purchased a camper that I am getting wrapped with a personal campaign to raise awareness everywhere Iris and I go. Our bucket list is to give back tenfold and it still will not be enough to repay what has been gifted to me.

All of this and so much more has happened because of this little rescue out of Georgia who has become my rescuer. The gift of living was given back to me. I still have all the medical issues but I no longer want to die, I want to live and be part of this world. There is no way to really say thank you to America’s VetDogs for all they have done for me other than live the life they have given me back.

 Thank you all for reading my blog and I am sorry I was a bit more long winded today but with Memorial Day Weekend upon us it is imperative that we take the time to do whatever we can to help our living veterans.

 As always here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Major miles and The Annual 5K in Annapolis, MD

As always here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.

This has been a very busy period of time for Iris and I, it seems like we have been running all over the place since the last time I updated the blog.  In reality only a week has past since my last update.  The Vetdogs 5K was a complete Success in Annapolis and everyone involved appeared to have a great time.   I do not know what the final numbers were as far as amounts raised for future service dogs for other disabled veterans but I do know that more people are aware of the need to have programs like this.

So many volunteers got involved in setting things up this year that the course was setup on Sat along with the building that was used as central base for all the registration and product sales.  So many thanks go out to Lisa seen here by the Flag for all the help she puts in every year to make this event happen.  

This years guest speaker was a local area veteran with a guide/service dog from VetDogs.  Yes that is right I said a Guide/Service dog, you see America's VetDogs is part of the Guidedog Foundation which allows it to be in a unique position to help our nations veterans in so many ways.  Back after WWII there was a need for Guide Dogs to help out our nations service members that were suffering from blindness from the war.  The Guide Dog Foundation was formed and has been around since then.  America's VetDogs was formed because the need for a different type of helper dog was needed.  The Service Dog program was put together and certified to allow our Veterans with needs other then blindness to be helped.

Brian, is one of those special Hero's that actually falls into both categories, his injuries caused him to be legally blind requiring his dog to be a Guide dog but he has a TBI and PTSD issues so his dog is also trained for seizure and nightmare interruption.  VetDogs is one of the only organizations that has the Dual accreditation to be able to do this kind of training.  Many people out there do not realize the great work this organization does to fill the needs of our veterans.

One of the other things that many people don't realize is that ADI requires recertification of all service dogs and the user.  The team is graded on the ability to work in the public and is not just graduated out into the community and forgotten about.  Iris and I were re-certified this past weekend while we did the trip to Smithtown and then to MD.  VetDogs has upped the reward for re-certifying by giving new gear to the team once they pass the ADI requirements.  As you can see with the picture of Iris and I on the finish line she looks great sporting her new vest.
 I have included many other pictures here of the 5K.

 As always here is the info on the fundraising page for VetDogs Attention: I have a Personal Fundraising Page for VetDogs Now! Please follow this link and make a donation to help another veteran like me get a service dog.