Testimonials

Like many family members with Veterans of TBI and PTSD, we are constantly seeking anything and everything that we can get our hands on to help cope or ease some of the symptoms of our war torn veterans are experiencing. As many of you know, beginning in October of last year….my husband started slipping away. We made it through December just by a thread and then in January, the bottom fell out on my husband and he tried to commit suicide. Having to have him placed in long term hospitalization was one of the hardest things a spouse/family member could ever face and do alone. Like many of your emails from soldiers and family members that you send, I too felt helpless in watching my veteran slip further away from me although I was hanging on as tight as I could.

Now in my traveling through the great online world, Patsy Swendson, Founder of Penny’s from Heaven, came across my path in several different ways but never in the form of a service animal. While I didn’t know her personally, I knew of her and the great work she and her team has done in the form of therapy dogs. It’s funny because sometimes I have my doubts in the big man upstairs but do firmlybelieve that he works in mysterious ways. After blogging, reaching out to fellow wives, and my fellow blogger and friend Gina (The Invisible Wounded)….I received a message that said “I can help you” from Patsy. I had my reservations, my doubts and although very educated in the subjects of service animals for PTSD; it took me several hours questioning my next move on making that call. We had been recently burned pretty badly not once but twice from another organization although we had more than the required medical documentation and references.

Best thing I ever did……..

After speaking with Bart Sherwood, the Director of the T.A.D.S.A.W program, I not only felt at ease in what I was applying for but felt like someone actually cared about my husband and my family. After many months of being turned away, shot down, shoved aside, and no one caring….it was a breath of fresh air. The application process was easy so had my reservations because it was so simple. They proved me wrong though and after many many phone calls with Mr. Sherwood…it was like talking to an old friend. He took the time to get to know us as a couple, my husband as an individual, his struggles and, my family as a whole. After those several failed attempts through another organization, I found that I was absolutely thrilled with this organization. Small, close knit, and full of determination and hope….they not only granted our application but they have now become family to us. Through it all, the factor that sealed the deal with me was that they didn’t care about what my husband did in Iraq. They never asked us if he killed anyone, expected his psychiatrist to release all doctor’s notes or make any demands, or what he went through…they just focused their attention on what his needs now are and what our needs as a family were. You can’t find that information about families like ours on an application or get to know them.

T.A.D.S.A.W. program is relatively new beginning only about a year ago and built from the therapy dog programs already in place. PFH takes dogs that have been thrown away, tested and if they show intuition, promise and willingness to work; they are rescued from shelters in Texas for a variety of purposes such as therapy, companion and service work. To date, they have trained five PTSD service animals for wounded veterans like my husband with intense and thorough training. Currently, there are 30 to be trained this year and applications coming in from all over the world. Setting goals for not only the dog but the veteran, they took on a wish list of things that a normal person would find humorous but for us, challenging. This “wish list” for us was as simple as just being able to go to Walmart for groceries, go and eat at a restaurant without foaming at the mouth or flipping out, and my children had the one wish to go to the movies with their daddy. As I said, very simple, ordinary things that most people take for granted but for Veterans with such issues….can be as challenging as climbing Mt. Everest.

Pairing the perfect Battle Buddy for my husband was a thorough process and one that I do believe was a match made in heaven.  We didn’t care what kind of dog it was, didn’t matter where he came from as long as he was good for my husband, my kids and our other small dog. “Gunny” was after long deliberation, the perfect match they made. “Gunny” was actually scheduled to be euthanized when he was rescued by Patsy the founder. Shortly after, he became sick and was diagnosed with distemper. Most dogs do not survive this illness but through love, patience and many prayers….”Gunny” survived and is now a full working service animal and in 100% top notch health. Being the fighter he is, and being the fighters we as a family were….it was decided that “Gunny” would be joining our family. Looking back, I know that decision was very hard for Patsy to make and I know she misses him so. However, I think Patsy was supposed to find him, love him back to health and then our paths crossing.

The months went by with phone calls and “Gunny’s” training with the Trainers. He surpassed his testing and before we knew it, we were on the plane to San Antonio, TX where the foundation is located. I was only able to spend a week there with my husband due to our children but what an amazing experience we had. Now for those who are interested in any service animal programs, training is pretty intensive. It’s go, go and go. You, as the Veteran and the family member, have got to have the willingness to work because service animals just can’t be given to you and expect to know it all. Michelle, our trainer, will push you as hard as she can without cracking a whip because the more you show your emotions, the better the dog will be able to handle such issues as they arise. Michelle had the patience of Mother Theresa pushing us as hard as we could go, but in the end? Totally worth it. We liked the fact the training involved being out in places such as Walmart, airports, restaurants, and all the places my husband normally would be frothing at the mouth just thinking about. Yes, they even took my husband to Chuckey Cheese’s in which that place would drive any of us crazy!

It feels like “Gunny” has always been with us from the first. He has the patience, the will to fight and never falters even when tasks involve a ton of people, stress and change of routines. “Gunny” is part of the family now and spoiled rotten. He plays hard and works even harder. The commands he learned are amazing and unless you have actually been around one of these dogs, you will never comprehend what dogs are doing for our Wounded Warriors. I remember one training day in the San Antonio, TX airport in which I was having issues walking with my health problems and legs. I lagged behind and started to choke up a little, swallowing and biting back the tears. It was because I realized for the first time in almost four years, my husband was walking ahead of me watching “gunny” as he was walking in an S shaped fashion clearing the path at a 3 foot length of people around them. For the first time in a long time, I could breathe. I felt many emotions that day; hope, encouragement and then I wondered if my husband would need me anymore as he always did. I felt so silly but Michelle told me this was common for us spouses as we are struggling with that sudden cut of dependency. I walked behind them and I really just swelled with pride as my husband and “Gunny” walked that airport like they owned the place. My husband was nervous and of course, panicky…but not once did he stop to look for me which in itself was a miracle.

After a good length through the terminal, “Gunny” looked behind to see if I was there. He started walking in front of my husband and started to slow down causing my husband to slow his paces. I realized then, “Gunny” was waiting on me as if he knew I was struggling to keep up but also was hurting that I was being left behind. Even today, no matter where we are or the situation we are in….”Gunny” always waits for me and gives me this look as if he is saying “I got your back and I am waiting on you”.

Having a service animal is a challenge in today’s society and as most owners of them say, it’s a double edged sword. However, we find even with the staring, the stupid comments and questions, it’s worth to see my husband have the willingness, courage and faith to get back out a little. It’s not a cure, and it’s not going to take all the bad things away but somehow it has made things easier and brought our family back together a little. We recently went to Panama City Beach, FL in which my husband was given a proper Coming Home along with 25 other couples. Being the secluded and homebodies we are, the amount of people was a bit overwhelming for us but “Gunny” never faltered.

We have now had him as part of our family since the end of July and it does feel like he has always been here. I can’t imagine a day that goes by without him nearby. He is not only good for my husband in many ways, but good for me as well. He knows the days where I am sick and hurting, resting his head close or on the places that hurt me so badly. I have woken many nights to find him sitting on the bed and watching over my husband and will do so as long as it takes my husband to go to sleep or barking to wake him up from nightmares. The more he is with us, the more he picks up on routines, knows our behaviors and knows just the right moment to love on us as if to say “It’s ok, I’m here”. “Gunny” is so intuitive that there isn’t a day that we aren’t surprised by his actions or a new thing he has picked up. He seems to know when my youngest son isn’t feeling well, and just recently alerted us to quite an aftershock of the recent earthquake. He jumped up and ran around in circles, barking at us which is something he just doesn’t do. We could not for the life of us figure out what he was doing! Shortly after his spell, the house and windows began to rattle. Scared me so badly as we have never experienced that before.

Now in Panama City, “Gunny” was quite the love hound taking in all the love and affection from fellow wounded warriors that were with us there on the retreat. I noticed watching him that he seemed to draw attention from some of the guys and how it brought my husband around to talk about his issues and what he went through with these guys and how they shared their stories. For my husband to talk to others period was amazing to see and man, was I proud. He had the confidence and willingness to share his problems with the others and I believe it was because “Gunny” was there all along. To see these heroes love and pet on “Gunny” was a beautiful thing to see as well as having them say “Get a picture of us will you?”. Made my heart swell in so many ways that it was very humbling to be a part of.

The T.A.D.S.A.W. program is in need of help to keep going. What started out small has become such a popular thing that they are experiencing worldwide cries for help just like they heard mine. On the average currently, most service animal or therapy dog organizations are about a 2-4 year wait. Penny’s From Heaven  want to be able to help any soldier or Veteran (no matter what war you served) who asks for it. There are so many loving dogs out there who are being thrown away and I think….makes them work even harder because they were saved once too. “Gunny” isn’t a full blooded dog, and God only knows what he is actually mixed with but to us? He is an angel in disguise flying close to the ground and an answer to a long awaited prayer I have had. From start to finish, training a dog and getting through their ADA recognition, Good Canineship testing and everything else that goes with it, is approximately $2500.00. Today, that may not seem a lot for some and for people like us…might as well be a million dollars. What started out as a small TX based organization for TX wounded warriors, is now spreading to other states and countries for wounded veterans. They are looking for additional sponsors for wounded warriors, sponsorships for their therapy dogs and help getting the Veterans there, a place to stay and be taken care of for three weeks. Based in TX, they are also looking for volunteers, foster care for dogs awaiting training, and help with the food, lodging and other incidentals that occur while the soldier/veteran is there training.

Statistic wise, I know we have a TON of readers who read this blog, share and pass along. I am hoping that each of you might be willing to pass on this organization’s information and be willing to drop a few dollars. If you own a business and are looking for a way to help our Wounded, this would be a fantastic way to do it! If you are an organization, an FRG, a support group…have a bake sale, car wash anything! Even 10.00 from many would make a difference in the life of a soldier/veteran and their families. Many other non-profits are always looking to pair up or pitch in, and this is one that could use the help and financial assistance. I have included a link HERE that breaks down the cost and sponsorships but even if all of us just saved that one trip to McDonald’s or miss one Starbuck’s coffee and dropped five dollars, quite a few of us could help save the life of a soldier or veteran in need. We all have talked about the fact that 18 suicides a day occur among our returning veterans. This I know, stunned and outraged us all. Statistically a year, an average of 9.6 million dogs are placed in shelters across the United States with many of them ending in euthanization. What a difference we could all make if we could take an animal that no one wanted and save the life of a wounded warrior.

I challenge each of you to give back to those who gave us all. It’s easy for us to sit back and shed a tear for those who felt there was no hope left and against all odds, took their own lives. Somewhere out there, there is an animal who just longs for a home and love. Let’s pair them up and let them save each other. I want to thank Penny’s From Heaven and the T.A.D.S.A.W. program. There isn’t a day where “Gunny” hasn’t walked the civilian battlefield side by side, with my husband and I, leading the way. Every day I see my husband smile, have a purpose and a drive to keep going. That has been the greatest gift anyone could have ever given us and for that, we are forever thankful and indebted to you. You are our family now just as any T.A.D.S.A.W family has become to us. You should be proud of all you have done and your accomplishments but more importantly know that you saved so many from sinking when all doors were otherwise closed.

You can find more about Penny’s From Heaven on their website along with mailing address, Paypal information and applications. I have included links to a recent story in the newspaper about this organization and service animals for PTSD. If you are interested in applying, or know of businesses or you are an organization that would like to help, you may find the necessary information here.

Uncle Sam’s Mistress – 11/16/17

Thank you very much for the opportunity to train Mika and for the privilege to call ourselves a service team. It was a wonderful experience to be able to take a great love and apply it to my everyday life, to walk side by side with a childhood companion and rely on it in ways I’ve never thought possible. Programs such as this are a great way for myself and other veterans to further better themselves as we reinsert ourselves into civilian life post deployment or post retirement. Thank you for all this program has given us.

Rick & MIKA TSD0778 .. 10/20/2017

I can’t thank TADSAW enough for helping me to train Bella! Jessica is amazing and it was my pleasure working with her. Please send an xlg navy t-shirt. attached is the completed survey. Thank you again for helping me to live a better life with my service dog.

Ashley V

I first would like to thank you so much for your help and support for my situation.   It was a long road that was difficult.  Without TADSAW and the trainer David, I would not know be at the point that I am.  You have helped me to start a new journey when I felt I had none.

Tierell

My name is Richard, and firstly I would like to thank everyone at TADSAW for what you do. I was diagnosed with PTSD a few years ago,( which ultimately killed me inside). I felt weak and useless after that. I spent some time in hospitals and after an episode last November I had lost all hope. I was given Bart’s contact information and within days was connected with the wonderful people there. My journey started in January when I met my trainer in Lancaster,PA. She paired me, or I should say the dog found me, with a wonderful rescue/owner surrender. Now 8 months later and we graduated yesterday. Blueberry, TADSAW, and my trainer Michelle have given me the ability to enjoy life outside again. I can now take my kids out without having to constantly worry because I know my Battle will always watch over us. Thank you TADSAW, you have literally saved my marriage and my life.

“My Ju is my everything, my lifeline to the outside world. I can now go to the store and not worry about people coming up behind me. I can not worry about panic attacks in public because I know she has me covered. At home she knows when I’m sick before I do, she stays under me and won’t leave. She my friend and my buddy. It’s funny, I can’t go to the bathroom and close the door, she’s pacing back and forth, sometimes cry at the door. I can’t go anywhere in the house long, before a she’s looking for me. I knew service dogs were beneficial to veterans with PTSD, but never to the extent of having one. It’s an Unbreakable bond.”

I can attest to the wonderful benefits of these service dogs as my son has had one for about a year now. I am thankful for this organization that is providing such a tremendous service in the training and certification of these dogs–as well as other benefits. Many lives will no doubt be saved as a result! We cannot continue to LOSE our beloved, PTSD-suffering veterans at the rate of 22 per day when help may be just a pup away!

“Last Sunday I experienced a triggering event while taking my daughter to work. As i went thru an intersection i saw a body laying in the road, and the police lights were not on. Which tells me the victim was already deceased. But what you don’t know that as Law Enforcement i worked a vehicle pedestrian accident 30 some yrs ago, had nightmare s every night for a year. My service dog Soloman has helped so very much, for this time the effects of the flashbacks lasted less than one minute. He, Sol Soloman, has many of the same anxieties as i, which is why we are so perfectly matched”

In January 2010 I suffered life threatening injuries that I will never fully recover from. As a result of these injuries I suffer from PTSD, chronic pain, and depression. PTSD caused my depression, the chronic pain magnifies it. I either hurt or I hurt a lot, I am never pain free. It takes more effort to socialize and have a life when you hurt, which increases my depression, which makes me want to be alone. Being alone is depressing. It is easy to fall into a pity party circle. Pain affect every part of my life. It slows my thinking and can make the most basic task a chore. I bought my car because the seat helps my pain, my chair at work was bought for me. My first consideration when going to a restaurant for the first time is the type of seating available. There isn’t any part of my life that isn’t effected by pain. I’m not a whiner. I don’t like pity parties. I don’t accept them from others and I won’t have my own. I constantly struggle with maintaining a positive atitude. I am a happy person with a positive outlook. I will be happy no matter how depressied I am. A positive happy person that is depressed, sounds like a sit-com. I live in relative isolation. I go to work, then home. My outside the home activity is grocery shopping. Living in isolation is not a life, it was not my life before I was injured, and it is not the life I want now. I know I need to get out. I just don’t want to. This is the type of conflicting thoughts that depression causes. Living a life outside my personal shell is an effort. With the help of my Service dog, Lunch, I am able to fight the urge to hide and withdraw. Lunch is a good-looking dog and attracts more attention than any dog I have owned. Lunch forces me to interact with people. Men, women, and children. I almost never leave the house without having people approach me wanting to pet Lunch and ask me about him. For me Lunch’s main task is that of an Emotional Support Animal, ESA. The law considers ESA animals pets. Lunch is not a pet; he is a documented Service Animal. He will help remove me from situations if I become overstressed. He will stand still if I need to brace against something or if I need a little help standing. Lunch is always ready without complaint when I need him. As an ESA Lunch keeps me distracted. which allows me to concentrate on what I am doing. Taking a dog, no matter how well trained, out in public takes effort. Lunch required direction, I have to watch him and the people around him. People can be a challenge; they want to talk to my dog, call him, offer him treats and distract him from his job. The effort it takes to keep Lunch on track helps distract me from thinking about how much I hurt, which allows me to concentrate on what I need to do. From time to time I am overcome with pain so stron I shut down as I try to cope. Thinking is almost impossible, I can’t carry on a conversation, I can’t do anything. When this happens, I need to sit or lay down and be left alone. Friend and family try hard to help me feel better. They can’t. There is nothing that can be done. I understand people want to help, they can’t. I just want to be left alone as the waves of pain pass. When I have one of these atttacks Lunch will sit next to me, or often on my feet. He is just waiting. Having him with me is such a mental relief as I recover. He doesn’t try to help or talk to me when I am not able to answer, he doesn’t keep asking what he can do, and he doesn’t look uncomfortable being around me, he simply waits for me. The motion of scratching him or puttin my hand on his back helps me regain focus and move on. Having my service dog has been a big plus to my quality of life. There are dozens of service dog organizations out there for Veterans. I think I contacted all of them asking for help. All of them were glad to provide me with THEIR dog; I already had a well-trained dog, I did not need another one. TADSAW was the only organization that offered to help me document my pet as a Service Dog and they continue to assist me as needed. Thank you TADSAW for your help and for looking out for VETs.

Just like to say thank you Bart and TADSAW for taking Cashe and myself, I know we took awhile to train but we learned a lot and are doing very well together, I’m glad I took my time and had a few bumps Cashe turned three in February so he’s working on his adultness if you would. I am going to try my best to Support TADSAW here in Columbus, GA, along with Marbles to help with new guys coming in and show what the pup can do once trained. IT takes a lot of hands on time yourself outside of the training days, I don’t think a lot of vets realize this, the ones that do excel at the program.

Again thank you.

Marine Urges VA To Provide Service Dogs To Vets With PTSD – Petcha

“Becca Stafford Husband and I watched the subcommittee hearing. Ridiculous what the VA veterinarian had to say. A plan by 2018, and the conclusion of trials by 2022? Our men and women don’t have that long! If it were not for Dean, my husband would have been one of the 22. I am so grateful to TADSAW and agencies like them who are meeting the needs of our men and women!”

I cannot thank you and TADSAW enough. It already has made so much of a difference. Thank you for allowing me to train Gus even with him being a little chihuahua. He came into this not even having one single command or even any social skills (my fault for not integrating him into the dog parks and such) and in just 5 weeks, 10 sessions, 1 practice PATT (Public Access Temperament Test) and the PATT for a total of 6 weeks/12 sessions my Gus went from my companion to my third leg in a tripod. He makes me stable and able to live my life more normally.

I am still in training with my dog Shay, but so far having her with me has made a huge difference. I still have anxiety in public, but not as much. I am able to start work this wednesday, she is there when im sad, and just her prescence makes me feel safe. We have come so far in just a month. Even my friends have noticed the change in me, i cant wait till we start the service dog training. Shes one command away from her good citizens certification.

FANTASTIC STORY IN FROM LEAH PATTERSON/TADSAW TRAINER/ TENNESSEE

THIS IS WHY TADSAW DOES WHAT IT DOES!!! IT QUITE FRANKLY WORKS!!!!! Much gratitude to Leah an amazing trainer and human being!!!

“Eric and Kizar. This dog has changed this man is so many ways i can’t even know where to begin.

Eric was coming to training a few weeks ago and was side swiped head on. When his mirror busted off it hit his window and all the debris hit him in the face. It sent him into a panic attack flashback and Kizar not affected by the accident crawled right on his lap between him and the steering wheel kissing his face bringing him back to the real world.

He has thanked me every single week for finding his perfect battle buddy. Kizar does everything from waking him from nightmares, reminding him to take his meds, finding his truck in a crowded parking lot and helping him exit a crowd of people or during a panic attack.

Please support www.tadsaw.org today and help us with helping veterans who suffer from PTSD, T.B.I, MST and more.”

“With a dog by their sides the warriors don’t have to rush, push, or try to force things forward.  It doesn’t work. Not anymore.  Hurrying, or impatience, will not speed up the process, or their journey.  The answer, our warriors with PTSD need to fully immerse themselves into, is the moment.  What better way to do so than with a dog who is the epitome of exemplifying being absorbed in the moment.  Thunder comes, storms come, and lightning flashes.  And it is frightening.  But storms don’t last forever and with their dog by their side the damage can be minimal.  And perhaps, just perhaps, when our warriors have exhausted everything, it is at that precise moment that it is up to their dogs.”

Patsy Swendson / Co Founder / Director Emeritus

“I am still in training with my dog Shay, but so far having her with me has made a huge difference. I still have anxiety in public, but not as much. I am able to start work this wednesday, she is there when im sad, and just her prescence makes me feel safe. We have come so far in just a month. Even my friends have noticed the change in me, i cant wait till we start the service dog training. Shes one command away from her good citizens certification.”

“As a combat vet 3 times in Afghanistan I would like to say thank you for what you do for us, I know the struggle and I am grateful to know that folks like you have our back. A small back story if you don’t mind of myself, I first deployed in 2010-2011, 2012-2013 and again in 2014 my wife was the first to pick up on my changes and how I don’t interact with our children even my new born who is 3 months old now, so she decided to have our dog evaluated to be my service dog. Without folks like you and the support of our family I wouldn’t be here today. So from the bottom of my heart and soul thank you!”

“This last weekend I went with my friends and family to a street festival spanning several blocks and took just as many to find a parking spot. My daughter had an accident and we had to walk back to the car without the rest of the group. My dog Argos is still in training through TADSAW and Total Canine Care in Clarksville TN. I had Argos in one hand and my daughter in the other. I talked to Argos and knew we would be OK. It was having my Argos by my side that kept me from complete panic and mental breakdown. He got me through what would have been a terrifying event. I know you get a lot of stories, I just wanted to share mine. We had a victory! Together as a team me and Argos. We found the car through some scary places.
So thank you again, it means so very much to me what you do.”

B.

“I thought I would share an experience I had the other day in my (current) hometown of Clarksville TN. Leah of TCC Service dogs has been working hard as a TADSAW partner in our city! I saw my first TADSAW pair working in a store the other day 🙂 As he was walking through the store, the clerk approached him to say he could not have his “pet” in the store. She did not notice his vest I guess :/ When the gentleman explained that he was a therapy dog she walked away.

As I was checking out in the front, the clerk was talking to the floor manager (who we know well) and saying she wasn’t sure the man was telling her the truth. I was SO glad I was standing there. I explained what TADSAW is, why the dog’s therapy vest was made from ACU material, and what the presence of the dog does for that man. It was so great to see their faces light with understanding and KNOW that the animal was allowing a new customer among them. I am sure that kind of interaction happens to warrior all the time and seemed insignificant at this point, but I wanted to share with you!”

MSP

It is because of TADSAW that I’m here. Both you and Bart get thanks all of us. Without the two of you I think it is safe to say that most of us wouldn’t still be around – let alone function.

B

Thank you so much for everything you have done to help me! He has changed my life for the better; even my parents, my Auntie, Uncle, and my friends can see that I am so much more happier than I was before and it is because of Moses! 🙂 I have taken Moses to so many places, to include the mall, the lake, a running trail, Red Lobster, Applebee’s, Barnes and Nobles, the library, and other shops to keep him socially interacting while at the same time I too am socially interacting instead of being a hermit crab in my room and in a little bit Moses and I are going to church for the first time together! I have told a lot of people about TADSAW when they tell me how well-behaved he is to try to spread the word about the life-changing affects TADSAW has had on my life.

I miss being there in Texas with all of you; there is something very special about being surrounded by a support system as you, Bart, and Carolyn who did so much to help me even before you guys ever met me, and for that I appreciate all the work you all do everyday to help Veterans like me. It is because of you guys that I now have a loyal, faithful Buddy who will never leave me side! Thank you so much!
Very Respectfully,

C. and Moses

Chelsea and I are team 0016. I don’t know how to tell you how much having her with me has meant to me. Last month I was able to go to a movie for the first time in about 25 years. Having her with me makes life easier and I feel more able to go out in the world instead of just staying at home and avoiding people all the time.

Thank you.

WC

“You can loose part of your psyche in war because you have no reminders of innocence in war. The dogs give you that reminder.”

While he prefers not to talk about it, he was also physically wounded during that same tour of duty. As a combat medic he was participating in a convoy escort in March, 2010 when he encountered an improvised explosive device. The results are ongoing problems with his knees and spine.

While his new service dog won’t be able to heal that pain, Spadoni says more and more soldiers are turning to man’s best friend to heal PTSD and other long-lasting psychological affects of war.

“It’s amazing how many soldiers are taking to service dogs,” he said. “It’s like a custom-made best friend that understands you and you understand them, and no one else has to know. It’s just a bond between two entities.” [Read more about this Soldier]

Benjamin now has ASIA one of TADSAW’S SERVICE DOGS helping with his pain and PTSD!
Click HERE to hear Benjamin’s story.

It is almost 9pm here and I took my sleep medicine about an hour ago. Then, my mind began to wander and I remembered the times you all came and saw us at Laurel Ridge. I miss those days. I know there are many months until I get one (dog), but even the thought of it rests my mind somewhat. Thank You, Thank You, and Thank You for giving me hope of better times. My anxiety is through the roof, but the book you gave me helps to make it manageable. God Bless and if there is anything a young man from Georgia can help you with… please let me know.

N.

My dog, Too, and I have recently been accepted into the TADSAW program. We are working hard to learn all the lessons and become a responsible, respectable team.

Too and I will be taking our K-9 Good Citizenship test on Tuesday. Dianne Espe has been a blessing to both of us. She is kind and caring. She expects a lot from us and we are more than happy to comply. She never expects too much. She expects what we can accomplish successfully.

Since beginning the program, I knew that Too and I would ultimately be in public places and needed to handle this task proficiently. So I found her a little boy’s rain slicker in a resale store. I used a red sharpie to mark down her back. S. I. T. (Service Dog In Training under the letters).

We have gently asked our surrounding community if it is okay to come into their establishments so we may train in the public arena. We have only been denied one time. We have been in Wal-Marts, Petsmarts, Lowes, Home Depots, HEBs, Walgreens, CVS, a variety of second hand stores, many restaurants, Whole Foods, Central Market, and many other public places. Too is doing her teacher and her human mom PROUD!!! She has never caused a problem in public. She minds her business and her manners. In a recent trip to HEB with our trainer, Dianne, we were told by her; “That’s impressive!” when Too walked very closely to the cold cut section while never even turning to look at the meats that were at her nose level.

I don’t know if Too is an exceptional dog or if it is that we have an exceptional trainer. All I know is that I am so comforted and supported when I can have my wonderful “Battle Buddy” with me. It is especially helpful when we are allowed to be together in the VA.

I am a Desert Storm veteran. I have been struggling with PTSD for over 20 years now. I kept thinking every new year that eventually the PTSD would magically get better. No such luck! Six years ago, I attended a Vets Journey Home weekend as a participant. That was the beginning turning point in my life. I quit dying one day at a time and began living them one day at a time.

I was diagnosed with a brain aneurism just after submitting my completed application package to TADSAW. I was sure my hospitalization and recuperation period would knock us out of the program. Much to my surprise and glee, TADSAW saved our place in line. Too and I began training as soon as I had healed enough from what I call my “upstairs repairs”.

Even though we are not certified yet, it is an amazing journey. People and children ask daily if they can pet my dog. I tell Too, “Tell the nice lady or baby or gentleman hello”. She walks forward sniffs their outstretched hand and accepts their pets. Then she returns to my heel on her own. The children especially become very happy when I thank them for being kind to my dog. People are curious about the cute little dog that wears the bright yellow rain slicker.

Today, I had the honor to tell a veteran at the VA about the TADSAW program. He and his wife were curious and brave enough to ask me about Too. They wrote the website information down and were going to go online and check out TADSAW as soon they returned home to Killeen.

I cannot begin to express my sincere gratitude enough to the TADSAW program. I am already feeling positive results from being able to spend more time with Too. She is so excited on “work” days. When I dress her, she takes on a very professional “dogatude”. When I take her slicker and lead off she returns to a household dogatude. She is such a blessing to me!!! I am working hard at our training. I can hardly wait until “graduation day”. I know she will look SO glamorous in her TADSAW Service Dog vest!!!

Thank all of you SO VERY VERY MUCH!!!

As Always,
And Ever Grateful,

Lee LeTeff
Desert Storm Vet and Warrior in Training

When I returned from Iraq, I was broken and life wasn’t the same. The experience forever changed my life, some for the good, some for the bad. One thing I knew though, I wanted a dog. I found my dog in a Craigslist ad and off to a small Texas town I went to pick her up. I could tell she was a special dog more so than any other dog I had every owned before. The effects of my time in war were starting to take its toll on me however. While watching TV one evening with this lump of brown fur in my lap. I saw a program on NATGEO about an Iraqi War vet that had a service dog and I wanted part of that. I searched the Internet for a program that would allow me to use my dog as my companion. I found TADSAW and contacted the director. Soon I found myself training side-by-side with this wonderful beast. After several months of training and a whole lot of love, I find myself with a constant companion I can take anywhere and is my source of strength. She helps me face life, has my back, wakes me when the nightmares come, comforts me when I just don’t feel right and makes me get off my couch and interact with the world. If I hadn’t found TADSAW I would hate to think how my life might have turned out. Not only has this lump of brown fur helped me, she has helped my family. I just can’t thank TADSAW enough for letting me get my life back.

Andrew C Pastusic Sr.
SFC, US Army
Electronic Warfare/Counter IED
Al Kut Iraq 08-09

After being deployed twice, once to Iraq and once to Afghanistan, I have not been the same person I used to be. There seemed to have been something missing and yet at the same time I gained some unpleasant things like PTSD, depression, loneliness, vigilance, etc.

Since I have had Asia, my service dog, she has given me back my spark. She’s my companion. I have her to talk to about anything and she will be there and listen with her tail wagging.

When I feel alone, she’s there to lay by me, comfort me and keep me warm. She has made me become more social with other people and it’s a good feeling to have someone ask about her. She’s special, she’s my friend. It doesn’t matter how tough of a day I’ve had, once I get home and see her, her goofiness makes me laugh and makes me forget all about it.

Benjamin B.

In every way that I could think of at this moment of how Kingsley helps me. He is laying next to me as I type these very words to you. How every single day without fail, he wakes up with me…licking my hand and whole body wagging along with that tail of his. He is forever grateful to me, as I am forever grateful to him. He fills my darkest moments with smiles and soft nudges. He has been to the darkest of places and never left my side. Kingsley’s love has never faltered or failed even when he knows he has done wrong. He never misses a beat…never misses a moment. Kingsley is the best thing that has happened to me. I have had PTSD for such a long time. I began to accept that this would be my way of life…but Kingsley had a different idea in mind. This ever faithful companion has showed me life again and that nothing has to be done on your own. He is a true friend, who is always there ready to take a walk, or just sit on the couch. Either way…this dog will be happy…happy to have changed my life.

Michael

I deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005 and again in 2007. I am married and have two boys that noticed the difference when I returned home. Since returning from Iraq I have had anxiety & sleep problems. The concern for my health grew and I noticed that my German shepherd “Katie” would keep me calm and focused. We have had Katie since she was a puppy and she is now 7 years old. Katie helping me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) helps me keep my family & life together.

I was talking with a fellow Marine about PTSD and he mentioned the Penny’s From Heaven Foundation and their therapy dogs. They also had a new program Train a Dog – Save a Warrior. I was excited to hear about these programs and I enrolled Katie in both. The program has worked out for us & Katie is now CGC, ATT, & therapy dog certified. Through these programs I have been able to spend more time with my service dog.

For others out there suffering with an invisible disability like PTSD there is a solution. I would recommend a dog to warriors to help in their treatment. I still take meds and go to therapy but having Katie as a service dog has helped me through some tough times. My dog lets me know that I am going to be OK when my anxiety builds up and when she wakes me from nightmares. Katie & I make a great team.

Thank you Penny’s From Heaven Foundation
GySgt Henry Idar

Thank you all who made this possible! It has been a life changing event for me in so many ways! It is hard to express it all. “Luther” is such a wonderful blessing and the support of trainer LaDonna and her husband Dan is so wonderful and caring. It makes me feel so much at peace and in caring, trusting hands, surrounded by friends that are taking care of me. God bless all of you involved.

Sam Summey
Desert Storm