I thought I knew about service dogs and the organization in our area that assists veterans who are suffering from those invisible wounds of war, PTSD, TBI, moral injury, and even the visible wounds of war.
I supported This Able Veteran before I met Sam. I went to a service dog and veteran pairing at Cannon Park because I lived in Carterville and because a friend of mine was going to be there.
I bought t-shirts. I viewed posts and shared them on Facebook.
But it wasn’t until we had a family vacation go a little sour (thanks, PTSD), that I really started to understand what the organization This Able Veteran does for our veterans. I learned what their service dog program was about.
When Sam decided to apply I began to educate myself on all the things related to service dogs, ADA, the results from studies done with service dogs and veteran teams…and I had hope. I prayed every single night after we mailed in the application that Sam would get a call, a notification, that he would be in a class. I saw his struggle, but I did not know how bad the struggle was.
One night while cooking dinner Sam got a phone call that changed his life.
He was accepted into the April 2016 class at This Able Veteran.
Since then, he and Memphis have been an incredible team. We did not know that Memphis would be the dog for him until they were paired one morning at the facility. I think I saw love at first sight and I began to understand that phrase of a dog being “man’s best friend.” I saw hope. What I did not realize at the time was that there would be so much healing once Memphis came to our home.
If you are not familiar with TAV (This Able Veteran), they provide service dogs to veterans at no.cost.
Yep, you read that correctly.
Here’s some information from their website:
This Able Veteran is a service dog organization benefitting the United States military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our service dog program is proven to help veterans with PTSD cope successfully with the symptoms of PTSD, including depression, nightmares, and social anxiety. Our intensive Trauma Resiliency Program incorporates service dogs trained for our unique anxiety alert and nightmare interruption aids. We are also training trainers – our PTSD Service Dog Trainer Academy will help put more specially trained service dogs into partnership with veterans suffering from PTSD.
There are incredible people that help raise money for service dog training. This is not a job that just happens overnight or without the assistance of wonderful people who believe in this organization and who want to help our veterans.
Rotary District 6510 raised more than $30,000 and they also helped raise an additional $45,000 to help change the lives of our veterans.
I know this because, without these wonderful people, I’m not sure where we would be today. These people helped sponsor sweet Memphis.
When Sam went through the three-weeks of trauma resiliency training a documentary was created about his time in the program. This really shows us all how we may think we know something…and then growth and healing start to take place—which totally changes the perspective of “what you thought you knew.”
My husband decided after a long, silent struggle with PTSD that he wanted to try to be the person he was before he went to war. He wanted to feel at ease in public, he wanted to spend time with his family and be comfortable. He wanted to really live life.
So, I share this documentary with you and ugly cry as I write this because this is a beautiful story. Not just because it is my husband, but because this is what this organization can do. TAV can really save and change lives. I witness this every day.
Please take a few minutes to watch this. Maybe grab some tissues.
Sam and Memphis will be on hand, a dynamic duo, throwing out the first pitch at the Southern Illinois Miners game on This Able Veteran Night June 3 at Rent One Park.
This documentary is only part of their story.
If you are local, we would love to see you at Rent One Park! You can purchase tickets through the event sponsor, South Porte Bank, by calling (618) 998-0098, by email at email@example.com, or in person! Swing by South Porte Bank and pick up tickets at their location at 701 North Court Street in Marion, Illinois.
To those of you who we have met on this incredible journey, who have supported us, prayed for us, dontated time, money, supplies, and supported this organization, I thank you for the bottom of my heart. Thank you just does not seem like enough. Your generosity and love means so much more than you will ever know.
These are two of my favorite photos from the training at This Able Veteran. The first photo is from some town work when Sam and Memphis went to Rural King for the first time. The second, when they met to begin their most incredible journey. <3