Today I want to share with you a story, one that is happening all around us. In fact, if you know a veteran who has returned home from a combat situation there is a good chance they may be all too familiar with this story.
You see this is a story about how many of our veterans survive the dangers of battle only to return home to face an uphill struggle with feelings of isolation leading to suicide, family abuse and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The harsh realities of transition to civilian life after military duty can cause a downward spiral of apathy, unemployment, broken relationships, addiction and depression.
If a veteran is lucky enough to get help from our Veteran’s Administration (Yes, that’s an intentional dig at our dysfunctional system!) there are tools to learn to manage many of the symptoms of PTSD, but not cure it or effectively sooth the emotional scars.
The Staggering Statistics
According to the last report issue by the Veterans Administration, every day 22 veterans take their own lives. That’s a suicide every 65 minutes. As shocking as this is, there’s a good chance the number may actually be much higher.
The data in the report was compiled through 2011 and only includes 21 states because many – such as California and Texas – chose not to make data available.
Another problem is there is no uniform reporting system in the US and the VA themselves acknowledge the “significant limitations” of the data, particularly with regard to female veterans and the homeless.
Finally, many suicides are simply not reported because families do not want to be associated with the stigma.
How Blade Overcame the Odds With Help From a Friend
Blade Antony served as a medic in the Marine Corp. He returned home from Iraq feeling alone and out of place, angry at people who didn’t understand his struggle with PTSD, the nightmares or that he was constantly on the verge of committing suicide.
Blade believes it was a miracle that led him to Pets for Vets because he’s sure that otherwise he would have become just another statistic. Pets for Vets is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting veterans and giving a second chance to shelter animals by rescuing, training and pairing them in a match that will help to provide a new lease on life.
After a long search for just the right match, the Pets for Vets team found DD, a Pitt Bull/Labrador mix they rescued from a shelter. She had been abandoned and suffered from a terrible case of mange causing her to lose most of her fur. She was nursed back to full health and then underwent extensive training because Pets for Vets knew she was the dog that would help to heal Blade.
Today DD and Blade are inseparable. Blade no longer loses sleep over nightmares because he no longer has any! He credits this to his Pets for Vets dog, DD. “DD and Pets for Vets saved my life.” says Blade.
Dogs are our link to paradise. they don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. to site with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace. ~Author Unknown
Companion Pets for Veterans
Medical research has shown that companion animals can draw out even the most isolated personality, and help traumatized veterans reduce stress and overcome depression, anxiety and emotional numbness.
But not only the veterans benefit; in many cases, the dogs that are teamed up with veterans in the program have come perilously close to succumbing as well, since the pets in the program are pulled from shelters, sometimes only hours away from being euthanized simply because of a lack of space.
Meet Steve and Dozer
Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald
Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.
She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.
To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click “here“.