Where did you serve and what did you do?
Navy, Vietnam (2 tours)
Tell us how your dog is helping you continue #StillServing in your community.
Once upon a time…wait a minute, that’s a different story.
My name is Robert and I am a combat veteran, having served two tours in Viet Nam 1968 and 1970. I was diagnosed with PTSD due to my time in the country. I also experience hearing loss and tinnitus.
I attend a support group for vets through the VA at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, CA. It was there that I heard about the VFW Post 8358 program in Sacramento for training service dogs. I had already checked into getting a service dog through a provider, but the waiting period was over two years. Also, I would’ve had no input as to what breed of dog I would acquire.
The VFW program allowed me to choose and bring my own dog. They then would evaluate the dog to make sure it would make a good service dog candidate. They gave us the choice of being provided a dog or bringing our own. I wanted a small breed that did not shed and was hypoallergenic, so I bought my own dog (an Australian Shepard Poodle Mix).
The program lasted 18 months, somewhat due to COVID-19 restrictions and not being able to meet. When we could meet, the training lasted an hour and I learned how and what to teach my dog, Mate. I looked forward to attending and truly enjoyed the camaraderie, as well as the bond that developed between myself and Mate.
Mate has been and continues to be “just that”, my mate (companion and friend). He has made me a more cheerful and happier person, which is more than I could have imagined happening. He accompanies me wherever I go, doctor’s, dentist, shopping, restaurants, etc. My anxiety has decreased significantly because he is by my side. My focus is on Mate, rather than the people around me. Mate is there and knows what to do.
I cannot say enough what a blessing the program and Mate have been to my life. I look forward to many happy years with Mate by my side supporting my needs. I would highly recommend this program to any veteran who suffers from PTSD. It truly has made a positive difference in my life.
Why do you do it?
After hearing about the service dog training at VFW Post 8358 from a support group for PTSD, I looked into their program. They tailored the training perfectly for my needs.