THE PAWS OF WAR

Tonight, we meet a few four-legged heroes training for an important mission.

Aired on November 11, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

BUILDING A BOND WITH HIM, HE STARTED DOING STUFF FOR ME THAT HE WASN'T EVEN TRAINED FOR.

NOT TOO LONG AGO, I WITH US IN THERAPY, AND WE WERE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING PRETTY INTENSE.

I GOT VERY PANICKY.

HE GOT UP OFF THE FLOOR AND LITERALLY CLIMBED UP ON TOP OF ME, PUT HIS WEIGHT ON ME AND STARTED LICKING MY FACE.

AND MY THERAPIST STARTED LAUGHING ABOUT IT.

I WENT FROM ALMOST HAVING A PANIC ATTACK TO LAUGHING BECAUSE MY DOG IS LICKING MY FACE.

AN ORGANIZATION THAT PLACES RESCUED ANIMALS WITH VETERANS.

THIS FACILITY IS DESIGNED TO BE THEIR SECOND HOME.

I AM A SPOUSE.

MY FIANCE IS IN THE ARMY.

WE HAVE A 5-YEAR-OLD TOGETHER.

SO I HAD TO DO A DOG WITH MILITARY STYLE WHILE HE WAS AWAY.

IN THE MEANTIME, I KIND OF STARTED DOING THIS, TO HELP WITH ME, TO HELP WITH MY FAMILY.

WE'RE A BIG SUPPORT NETWORK HERE.

WE ALL WORK HAND IN HAND.

WE STARTED FIVE YEARS AGO, PLACING DOGS.

AND WE ARE PROUD OF THE PLACEMENTS.

WE ARE PROUD OF THE LETTERS AND EMAILS AND TEXTS THAT WE GET TALKING ABOUT, HEY, JUST WANT THE SAY HELLO, AND TODAY IS ANOTHER DAY THAT I'M ALIVE, AND I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR THIS DOG AND YOU GUYS.

WE'RE GOING TO DO TREATS THE SAME WAY EVERY TIME.

EVENTUALLY TREAT GOES AWAY.

WE'RE GOING TO PUT THAT RIGHT TO HIS NOSE, AND I'M GOING TO LEAD HIM RIGHT TO MY TOES.

WHEN THE GUYS COME HOME, YOU EXPECT THE WORLD FROM THEM BECAUSE THEY EXPECT HOME, RIGHT?

THEY SHOULD BE THE SAME.

NINE OUT OF TEN TIMES THEY'RE NOT.

THEY'VE BEEN THROUGH A TRAUMATIC EVENT.

RAISE IT UP.

SIT.

SO I WANTED TO BECOME A MILITARY POLICE OFFICER.

I HAD TO BE 19.

I WASN'T.

I WAS 17.

SO I TOOK THE NEXT BEST THING.

I JOINED THE MARINE CORPS SECURITY FORCE.

THAT'S A SECONDARY JOB.

YOU TO CHOOSE A PRIMARY JOB.

SO MY PRIMARY JOB WAS INFANTRY.

WHEN I FIRST GOT OUT, THINGS WERE A LITTLE WEIRD FOR ME.

THE SYMPTOMS I HAD ASSOCIATED WITH PTSD WERE NOT REALLY MAJOR AT THE TIME.

IT KIND OF GREW.

LITTLE THINGS GREW FROM SEEDS AND IT GOT BIGGER AND BIGGER AND BIGGER AND WORSE AND WORSE.

SO I STARTED DOING THINGS TO TRY TO COPE WITH IT.

DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IT WAS PTSD.

DIDN'T RECOGNIZE IT.

I THOUGHT MAN, IT'S JUST ME.

I'M SCREWED UP.

AND I'D HAVE A NIGHTMARE AND THEN I WOULD BE AFRAID TO GO BACK TO SLEEP.

SO I WOULDN'T GO TO SLEEP FOR TWO DAYS.

I DIDN'T WANT PEOPLE TO SEE ME LIKE THAT.

SO I'D ISOLATE.

I'D STAY HOME FOR TWO OR THREE DAYS UNTIL IT PASSED.

I STARTED TAKING PAIN MEDICATION PRESCRIBE BESIDE MY DOCTOR.

I FOLLOWED THE PRESCRIPTION THAT I WAS SUPPOSED TO DO.

AFTER TIME, I STARTED TAKING IT NOT BECAUSE I WAS IN PAIN, BUT BECAUSE IT MADE ME FEEL BETTER.

I STARTED TAKING IT MORE AND MORE.

I HAD A FEW NIGHTS LOOKING IN THE MIRROR, I CAN'T LIVE MY LIFE LIKE THIS.

SOMETHING IS WRONG.

ONCE I STARTED WORKING WITH THE V.A.

AND MEETING OTHER PEOPLE IN GROUPS AND THERAPY IN PROGRAMS, I MET OTHER PEOPLE WHO WERE DEALING WITH THE SAME STUFF I WAS, I DIDN'T FEEL SO ALONE ANYMORE.

I FELT HERE ARE SOME PEOPLE WHO DO GET ME.

THE FIRST PLANE HIT THE TOWER.

THEN WHEN THE SECOND PLANE HIT, THAT'S WHEN MY NATIONAL GUARD UNIT WAS DEPLOYED.

AND WE WERE SHIPPED OUT ON BUSES TO THE OUTSKIRTS OF GROUND ZERO.

AS WE WALKED CLOSER AND CLOSER TO THE PILE, IT WAS BURNING.

IT SMELLED REALLY BAD.

PEOPLE WERE SEARCHING IN THE PILE FOR BODY PARTS.

IF WE HAPPENED TO FIND ANY REMAINS, THEN WE WOULD HAVE TO BRING THE PARTS TO THE MORGUE.

I STARTED DRINKING A LOT AT THAT POINT AND USING ILLEGAL DRUGS.

AND IT WAS ALL TO NUMB ALL THE THINGS THAT I WITNESSED.

I STARTED REALIZING IT AS THE PROBLEMS WERE GETTING WORSE.

MY IRRITABILITY WAS GETTING WORSE.

I STARTED GETTING PARANOID, AND WHEN I GOT TO THAT POINT, THAT'S WHEN I WENT TO THE V.A.

HOSPITAL IN EAST NORTH PORT AND I GOT HELP.

GREAT JOB.

GOOD JOB.

JAMES IS AN AMAZING INDIVIDUAL.

HE'S THE FIRST TO VOLUNTEER FOR ANY SERVICES.

HE IS THE FIRST TO HELP OUT.

HE IS THE FIRST TO BUILD SOMETHING.

HE IS THE FIRST TO COLLECT DOG FOOD AND BRING IT US TO.

HE'S ALWAYS BEEN ACTIVE IN HIS COMMUNITY.

GUARDIAN'S A RESCUE, RESCUED 11 PUPPIES FROM LOUISIANA AND DONATED TO PAWS FOR VETERANS.

THEY WERE IN A HURRICANE, AND IN LOUISIANA, THEY WERE GOING TO EUTHANIZE ALL 11 OF THEM.

STARTING OUT WITH HIM, IT'S STARTING OUT WITH, LIKE, A NEW CHILD, BUT IT'S A PUPPY, AND NOW YOU HAVE TO MOLD IT.

I MET SOMEONE NAMED TODD WHO WAS A MEMBER OF PAWS OF WAR AND WHO HAD A SERVICE DOG.

ONCE I MET TODD AND SAW HOW MUCH A SERVICE DOG WAS GIVING HIM, I THOUGHT WOW, MAYBE A SERVICE DOG OBE GOOD.

HIS DOG HELPED ME SO MUCH BECAUSE IT'S A FULLY TRAINED SERVICE DOG THAT I WAS LOOKING AFTER AND TAKING WITH ME EVERYWHERE.

IT WAS FANTASTIC.

AND I STARTED SMILING AGAIN AND I STARTED LAUGHING AGAIN, AND IT WAS PRETTY COOL.

I SAID WHAT'S THE CHANCES THAT I CAN GET A DOG?

AND THEY SAID I THINK THE CHANCES ARE PRETTY GOOD.

SO I PUT AN APPLICATION IN, I WENT THROUGH THE PROCESS THAT I'M NOW IN CHARGE OF, AND I GOT ROCKY.

ROCKY HAS JUST EXCEEDED MY EXPECTATIONS.

I MEAN, HE IS VERY WELL-TRAINED.

HE IS A VERY GOOD DOG.

I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER WITH ROCKY.

NOW HARRY IS PART OF MY CLASS, AND HE IS GOING FOR THE REST OF THE BADGES FOR ROCKY.

AND WE'RE TAKING HIM THROUGH ALL THE LEVELS, AND THEY'RE VERY GOOD STUDENTS.

EVERY CLASS IS AT LEAST FOUR TO SIX DOGS, IF NOT MORE.

OTHER GUYS SAY THEIR WORK SCHEDULE IS TOO HECTIC, WE CAN BRING THE VETERINARIAN TO THE SERVICE DOG WE NEED.

IF ANYONE NEEDS HELP WITH DRUGS OR SUBSTANCE ABUSE ISSUES, WE DO HAVE A LIAISON THAT CAN DIRECT THEM IN THE RIGHT FACILITY TO GET THEM IN THE DIRECTION THEY NEED SO WE CAN GET THE SERVICE AROUND IT AS WELL.

YOU WANT ME TO WORK WITH ROCKY FOR A SECOND?

TAKE A BREAK?

SERVICE DOG IS AN EXTENSION OF YOUR ARM.

SERVICE DOG MEANS THAT THE SERVICE DOG HAS A JOB TO DO AND MUST BE ATTACHED TO SAID SERVICE PERSONS.

HE'S JUST THERE.

EVEN IF I'M DREAMING AT NIGHT AND I'M SWEATING AND STUFF, HE'LL COME OVER TO ME, HE'LL POUNCE ON ME, HE'LL LICK MY FACE.

HE'LL WAKE ME UP FROM MY DREAM.

HE GOES TO SCHOOL WITH ME.

HE IS TRAINED TO LAY DOWN OR SIT.

I TELL HIM THE COMMANDS, DEPENDING ON WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE CLASSROOM, AND HE STAYS THERE.

HE DOESN'T CARRY NOTES OR BOOKS.

MOST OF THESE DOGS IN THE BEGINNING, ONCE WE TRAIN THAT CONNECTION THEY START TO TRIGGER.

AND I START TO SHOW THE GUYS WHEN THEIR DOG IS TRIGGERING THAT.

YOU'LL SEE IT.

VERY EARLY STAGES OF TRAINING, IF WE HAVE THE RIGHT FIT.

ROCKY, SIT.

GOOD BOY.

I PICKED HIM UP.

I DIDN'T TOUCH ANY OTHER PUPPY.

I WANT HIM.

I KNEW HE WAS THE ONE FOR ME.

HE WAS NICE AND CALM.

HE WAS CONSOLING ME RIGHT AWAY.

HE IS JUST NESTLED UP TO ME, AND HE DIDN'T WANT TO GET OFF MY LAP.

YOU KNOW?

AND EVEN NOW STILL, HE FOLLOWS ME EVERYWHERE.

FREE TIME?

OKAY.

BE FREE!

LEAVE IT.

WHEN THE VEST IS OFF, THE DOG CAN BE A NORMAL DOG.

ROCKY!

WHEN THE VEST IS ON, THE DOG IS IN WORKING MODE.

SO THE DOG DOES KNOW THE DIFFERENCE OF WHEN HE NEEDS TO BE DOING HIS JOB AND WHEN IT'S OFF THE CLOCK TIME.

WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THE VETERANS ARE INTERESTED IN AN ORGANIZATION THAT A DOG REALLY WILL BE A GOOD FIT, AND THAT THEY ARE RECEIVING CARE ALREADY.

IF A VETERAN COMES TO US AND THEY HAVE PTSD AND IT'S NEVER BEEN DIAGNOSED, THEY'RE NOT GETTING OUTSIDE HELP FOR IT, THEN THAT'S WHERE OUR PEER SPECIALIST WILL COME IN AND POINT THEM IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, SAY LISTEN, THIS IS REALLY WHAT YOU MIGHT NEED.

GOOD BOY.

US HERE AT PAWS OF WAR, WE'RE JUST OTHER VETERANS THAT HAVE BEEN THROUGH THIS.

EVERYONE IS AFFECTED A DIFFERENT WAY.

THE FACT THAT THEY ARE THIS HONORABLE UNIFORM, SOMETIMES IT'S VERY HARD FOR THEM TO ACCEPT THAT THAT IS WHO THEY ARE NOW.

AND THAT'S THE BIGGEST HURDLE THAT A LOT OF THESE GUYS GO THROUGH.

WITH THE DOG, ANOTHER THERAPEUTIC HAND IN THAT, IT HELPS THEM MORE EASILY TRANSITION AND ACCEPT WHAT THEY'RE GOING THROUGH, AND BE ABLE TO PROCEED FORWARD AND LIVE A MORE FULFILLED LIFE.

WELL, YOU ALWAYS HAVE A FRIEND.

YOU'LL NEVER BE LONELY.

YOU ALWAYS HAVE SOMEONE THE TALK TO.

THEY MIGHT NOT TALK BACK.

BUT THEY'RE THERE FOR YOU, WHEN YOU'RE HAVING THOSE HARD MOMENTS OR THOSE DOWN TIMES.

YOU'LL ALWAYS HAVE A FRIEND WITH YOU.

A SERVICE FOR US, THIS IS OUR SERVICE FOR YOU, AND WE ARE VERY GRATEFUL FOR IT.

SO THIS IS OUR GIFT BACK TO THOSE WHO HAVE DONE A GIFT BIGGER THAN WE COULD EVER ASK FOR.

♪ ♪

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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