The world can be a pretty lonely place, especially for a veteran transitioning to civilian life. For one such veteran, a rescued Pit Bull was all he needed to battle loneliness and deal with the stresses of everyday life.
Air Force ‘cowboy’ aims high
Jason joined the Air Force, and was stationed in both Oklahoma and Germany with the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) enlisted air crew. A profound sense of duty inspired the die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan to enlist.
“I entered the military because I think all men should serve their country,” he says.
While deployed overseas Jason was assigned to the NATO Air Base in Geilenkirchen, Germany. Due to a lack of base housing, he lived in the local community and cites it as one of the most memorable experiences of his time in service.
“I had German landlords and all my friends were Dutch,” Jason says. “The base bordered Holland. I think this has to be one of the top 10 best military assignments anyone could have.”
Adopting a best friend
After he completed his tours of duty Jason found everyday life to be less high-flying than his military career. The transition from service to civilian life was difficult, stressful and – above all – lonely.
Now living in Hampton Roads, Virginia, Jason needed a friend, and shares his reasons for choosing to adopt a dog.
“To help me deal with stress,” he explains, “and dogs are the best friends people can have.”
The Air Force veteran learned about Pets for Patriots and its companion pet adoption program from a fellow veteran who adopted through our charity, and decided it was just what he needed.
Jason visited one of our local shelter partners, Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center, for help finding a program-eligible pet that suited his needs and lifestyle. The shelter has been a member of our adoption partner network since 2012 and extends a 50% adoption fee to veterans in our program – in addition to the various benefits that Pets for Patriots provides.
Life in “a pretty lonely world”
At the time, Jason had no idea how much one particular dog in the shelter’s care would change his life.
Auggie was a large, male stray Pit Bull. Due to his age, size and breed his prospects for adoption were dim. The big dog was at the Norfolk Animal Care and Adoption Center for nearly one month before Jason met, and ultimately adopted him.
Since renamed Tyrion, the rescue dog is already proving his mettle.
“Tyrion has given me a companion in a pretty lonely world,” Jason says. “He is always happy to see me. He can tell when I am depressed and dealing with high anxiety times. He is also very protective and just an all around AWESOME Pit Bull.”
The Air Force veteran is not only thrilled with his new friend, but happy that he adopted him through Pets for Patriots.
“The program is amazing and helps with expenses,” he says, in reference to the generous post-adoption stipend towards pet food and other basics, and ongoing discounted pet care from participating veterinarians.
Jason has even decided to support Pets for Patriots through purchases he makes on eBay and Amazon, where we receive a portion of sales when shoppers select our charity.
Less tangible benefits are no less rewarding and, in fact, are at the heart of why Jason chose pet adoption in the first place. Companion animals help people create positive, non-threatening social interactions which, in turn, help to reduce the isolation and loneliness that so many veteran experience after military service.
“He is a people magnet!” Jason exclaims. “I get constant compliments from people when I walk him about how beautiful is he is.”
But perhaps the most amazing benefit is the unconditional love that binds a once-lonely veteran and a once-stray dog.
“He is very loving as well,” says Jason, “and I can tell he looks at me like I’m his Daddy.”
Are you or do you know a veteran who would benefit from a companion pet? Learn more here.