A disabled Army veteran coping with PTSD and TBI shares her story about how dogs have changed his life. He would like to see the Veterans Administration provide benefits to support pets adopted by veterans for their own self therapy. His story speaks to the heart of what we do at Pets for Patriots in connecting last-chance pets with veterans. Many of our adopters talk about being imperfect or misunderstood, and feel a kinship with unwanted animals that are often described in similar terms. We believe this strong identification with the predicament of an “unwanted” animal is what accounts for the deep bonds that these connections ultimately create.
My name is Laramie and I am a disabled veteran. I served in OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom has since been renamed Operation New Dawn] 2003-2004 and I recently returned home from supporting OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) 2010.
Before I went to Afghanistan in 2010, I was already diagnosed for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) from my first tour of duty in Iraq in 2003-2004. On July 15, 2010, I was injured in combat in Afghanistan and my world changed for the worse. Not only did I have a physical disability, but my mental and emotional disability got even worse.
While I refused to be sent back to the states after my surgeries, I began to go online while I was in physical therapy in Afghanistan. I began to research dogs and I became interested in pit bulls. While I was in physical therapy, I purchased four pit bull puppies that weren’t even born yet. When I returned home from Afghanistan in November 2010, I went to pick up my first puppy in December 2010. I picked up my second and third up in January 2011, and I picked up my fourth one in March 2011.
[sws_pullquote_right]I decided to get the pit bull puppies because I could relate to them. They are animals that are misunderstood and given a bad name based on what society says. [/sws_pullquote_right]
As a soldier, I’m misunderstood and often times I’m given a bad name because of my PTSD.
Since I’ve had my dogs, they have truly helped with my depression and other things that I deal with day in and day out. I didn’t know anything about your adopt a pet program until today, but I think that you all should put something in your program for soldiers like myself who didn’t know about your program, but went out and purchased a dog to help with their self therapy. Many people don’t realize the impact a dog can have in a person’s life and the impact a person can have in a dog’s life.
I wouldn’t trade my dogs for anything in the world, and I think your program is a great idea for the dogs as well as the veterans. I don’t work anymore because of my injuries and, at the age of 33, that is very depressing in itself.
[sws_pullquote_right]My dogs help keep my head above the water and they make feel like I’m still somebody. [/sws_pullquote_right]
I can’t do everything I use to do and that makes me feel useless, but my dogs show me that they love me and they need me. The love my dogs give me go just as far as the love a human can give.