That sweet little chunky pup is none other than Memphis. At the time of the photo, we had no idea the joy and happiness he would bring to our lives. We had no idea that “big country” would give us so much hope.
The photo at the bottom is from the Rotary District 6510 fundraiser, Giving Hope. I just love that–“giving hope.” You see, the wonderful Rotary clubs from District 6510 helped raise enough money to sponsor a service dog—can you guess which dog that is?
Memphis wears a Rotary patch on his vest. It was sewn on before he and Sam graduated from This Able Veteran. At the graduation, we were fortunate enough to meet Lane Harvey, a past district governor and an individual who helped get several Rotary clubs involved. What made this so special is that our very own local Rotary chapter in Carterville was heavily involved.
Rotary serves others—they even have a “4-Way Test”: “Is it the Truth? Is it Fair to all concerned? Will it build Goodwill and Friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” We’ve met some amazing folks who are so generous and giving–with such kind hearts that they really live out the Rotary motto: “service above self.”
How wonderful to know that individuals like Phil Gillespe, Jim Koonce, Brian Flath, Lane Harvey, Woody Almind, Dave Matthews, and many, many other individuals whose names I either can’t remember or do not know, care so much about our Veterans and the work of This Able Veteran.
Through volunteers, donations from individuals and businesses, This Able Veteran (and Rotary District 6510) gives hope. How? By the donations, the training of the dogs, and even the volunteers and folks who help make the three-week training program for Veterans run, these people give selflessly of their time, their money, and they help support Veterans.
Did you know that TAV depends on volunteers and donations from businesses and individuals? They receive no government support, but because of the generosity of others they can provide service dogs, a trauma resiliency program, and travel, food, lodging at no charge to Veterans. Yes, you read that correctly: at no charge to Veterans.
I believe that a dog can be man’s best friend. I believe in a healing power between humans and canines, and I believe in hope…I can tell you that there are Veterans who struggle with PTSD. They are afraid to go out in public, in large crowds. They can be overwhelmed with daily tasks, sometimes even having triggers at work. I can tell you that some Veterans want to hide and wear a mask because they don’t want to burden or make others uncomfortable just because they have an invisible wound of war.
I believe that it takes a village to prep, train, and educate these dogs and their Veterans. Did you know that a $10 donation could feed a service dog in training for a week? Or that a $100 donation provides a service dog vest? Those small gestures, they mean so much…and they give so much hope…
Did Sam have hope during the weeks and months waiting to hear if he was going to be in the TAV April 2016 class? Yes. Do we have desires for certain things to happen in our lives? Yes, at times. Did we wish, pray, and plan at times for what our lives would be like with a service dog? Absolutely.
By giving hope, I truly believe that we can better the lives of Veterans. There’s so much I want to share with you all about how much better things are for Sam. How daily tasks seem like a breeze at times, how Memphis can help if a trigger or memory comes to light…and I will. But for now, it is important to tell you all that we hoped, we prayed, we believed in a cause…and friends, I can tell you, this organization gives hope. The major contributors, like Rotary District 6510…they give hope…and because of the kindness of some people we may never meet, the generosity of people who believe in helping Veterans return home, life is good. Life is very good.
Our kids have asked us “what do you want for Christmas?” Now, as a mom that works full time, I could come up with a big list–a spa day, a pair of comfortable shoes, an iTunes gift card…but honestly, I have amazing gifts in my life. I am blessed. It would be so nice to bless others, as we have been blessed…
So, when asked, my answer is, “I would like people to donate to TAV. I want a Veteran to be blessed like Sam has been, and our family has” because this journey isn’t Sam’s alone, we are in this together.
If you feel the need to help provide food for a service dog, a leash and collar, or a vest, or maybe you want to donate in honor of someone, consider donating to This Able Veteran. There are so many Veterans who have yet to really “come home” from their deployment(s)…there are Veterans who deserve a chance to have hope.
Please visit www.thisableveteran.org to learn more about the program, the people who make it happen, and how to donate.