by Gary Austin
I stumbled on this site while surfing the Internet recently. I like that this organization addresses two problems with their solution. Quoted text is from their website Companions for Heroes.
“Every day 23 veterans take their own lives and every 8 seconds a shelter animal is euthanized.
You can make a difference. Help heal the lives of veterans, active military personnel, first-responders and sheltered animals.
Our mission is to provide rescued companion animals and skilled companion dogs free of charge to active duty military personnel, military veterans, and first-responders recovering from physical and psychological challenges.”
I think the founder’s story is very moving: “[David] Sharpe (originally from Georgia) served in the U.S. Air Force Security Forces where he endured several incidents that, at the time, didn’t affect his personal relationships with his family, friends, and colleagues (or so he thought). However, a short time after his first deployment during November 2001 where a life-threatening situation occurred (one-on-one confrontation with a Taliban sympathizer pointing his weapon in Sharpe’s face during Entry Control Point Checks), he began to act violently towards his family, friends and himself – all symptoms of Sharpe being diagnosed eight years later by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) with having Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Sharpe found himself waking up in the middle of the night with cold sweats, random crying, having outbursts while blaming and questioning himself how he had handled the life-threatening situations he had found himself in.
Then, Sharpe was introduced to a little rescue pit bull puppy, Cheyenne. Cheyenne witnessed one of Sharpe’s many outbursts (hyper-arousal) shortly after he adopted her from an independent pit bull rescue organization. While Sharpe was in the act, he noticed this little pit bull puppy wagging her tail looking up at him with those playful puppy-dog eyes while turning her head from left to right, knowing that something was wrong with him. Sharpe found himself fixated on this new little puppy that had come into his life during his violent outburst and froze, picked her up and told Cheyenne (while crying) everything he was suffering with in his head.
Immediately, Sharpe felt so relieved; like a 10,000-pound weight had been lifted off his chest. Soon after, Sharpe’s family and friends noticed a significant change in his behavior – a reduced number of outbursts, better attitude, etc. – all because of this little pit bull puppy. So, in October 2009, Sharpe (with his faith in God) set out on a mission to share his personal struggles and success stories with his brothers and sisters-in-arms, firefighters, police officers, first responders and patients suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or similar symptoms. Sharpe’s hope is that C4H will aid them in their recovery while at the same time saving our nation’s shelter and rescue animals.”
Lots of success stories here.
Reprinted with permission from Companions for Heroes