THE PAWS OF WAR

November 12, 2019 at 5:00 am

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

Aired on November 11, 2019.

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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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