Dark memories haunt, and bind, Vietnam veteran and adopted dog

Jerome and Scruffy

As an Army veteran of the Vietnam War who had worked tirelessly his entire life, Jerome found himself struggling to stay busy during retirement. Work was his only antidote for keeping the dark memories of war at bay and, with his wife Suzanne still working, he became accustomed to spending most of his days alone with her dog Lexi. Yet Jerome wanted to a companion of his own - a loyal friend he could adopt and call “my dog." Fixing helos in NamAfter studying auto mechanics and engine repair at Wolverine Trade School in Detroit, Jerome joined the Army in 1966 at the age of 18. He then spent an … [Read more...]

Post-9/11 Army veteran adds “awesome” shelter dog to his pack

Jason and Cocoa

Jason served in the shadows of 9/11, joining the Army and, after service, saving the life of an "awesome" little shelter dog named Cocoa. In the early days of August 2001, Jason made the life-altering decision to enlist into the United States Army. He worked in Washington, DC while awaiting his entry date and, on September 11, 2001, could see and smell smoke that he later learned was the Pentagon catastrophe only two miles away. As the national tragedy wore on, Jason found out that some of his family had escaped the World Trade Center destruction.Shaken to his core by these tragic events, … [Read more...]

WWII hero won over by special needs cat

Roy and Hank

A WWII hero coping with loneliness after the death of his wife of 64 years was chosen, and ultimately won over, by a very special, special needs cat.No guts, no gloryIt was 1944 and Roy headed off to school like he did every day. Little did he know this would be no ordinary day, one that would shape the rest of his life. As the teen settled into class, men in military uniforms entered the room and asked if anyone wanted to enlist in the Army before being required to register for the draft upon turning eighteen. “I wasn’t too smart in school. I was having a tough time so I said yes. Two days … [Read more...]

Shelter dog helps disabled Army veteran learn to trust again

Venice and Rico

Rico barely tips the scale at eight pounds, but this once homeless shelter dog is worth his weight in gold for helping a disabled Army veteran regain her trust in others.Army strong and proud to serveVenice served 10 years in the United States Army as a 92Y Supply Sergeant, during which time she was stationed at various posts stateside including Ft. Lewis, Ft. Hood, Ft. Polk and Ft. Benning - in addition to serving overseas in Germany, Bosnia and in Operation Desert Storm. The Army veteran trained troops in Kosovo, as well.Having already taken on a role with vigorous demands, Venice reflected … [Read more...]

Vietnam veteran helps people and pets find their way

John and Tasha

John is a Vietnam veteran who wonders if he has a story to tell.“I’m one of the lucky ones who came out of combat unscathed, both physically and mentally," he says. “I thank G-d every day for that.”Nevertheless, John does have a tale. He helps people and pets find their way, first as a radar installation supervisor in Vietnam and then as a teacher, author, career development consultant and pet parent. Companion pets have always found their way into his life.Showing the way in wartimeJohn feels deeply for veterans who haven’t been able to fully reconnect with society and who suffer from … [Read more...]

Elderly Army veteran beats the blues with shelter dog

Gerald and Tiger

An Army combat veteran of the Korean War and self-described “last man standing” fought back loneliness with a shelter dog named Tiger. Gerald has distinct memories of Korea, where he served with the 82nd Anti Aircraft Artillery (82nd AAA) based out of the 38th parallel. A lot of life transpired between his time in the Army and where he is today – 81, divorced and largely alone – but life changed radically and for the better when he adopted a companion pet.  “He made up for company I have now compared to being all alone. I’ve got him and he’s got me,” he says. “He’s not human and sometimes … [Read more...]

Dog on heavenly mission a final faithful friend to Vietnam combat veteran

Gary and Marley_adoption

Mark Twain once said that if heaven was a reward to be earned, “you would stay out and your dog would go in.” Clearly the iconic author never met Gary, a combat veteran of Vietnam who believed his recently adopted shelter dog was heaven sent. We have no doubt that Gary’s life and extraordinary service earned him a heavenly perch as well. Gary died suddenly on June 22, 2014, just days after being interviewed for this story.  At the request of his wife, Mary, and in keeping with Gary’s wishes, we are sharing his tale. Joining the fight It was 1964 and Gary had just graduated high school. He … [Read more...]

Retired Army veteran finds love and acceptance in adopted dog

Duane and Lizzy

Duane is an Army veteran who, like many of his era, received little appreciation for his service. Following the death of a beloved pet, he adopted a little dog who gave him what he needed most: love and acceptance. A proud military career After serving in the Army from 1971-2006, Duane retired as a Sergeant Major. From his more than 20-year career he has his share of memories – some good, some bad – including a fond recollection of the Koreans who lived near where he was stationed. Having served there for a year, he had come to appreciate many of the locals and their way of life. “You’re on … [Read more...]

Calm, cool canine helps Army veteran make connections

Mary and Rocky

A homeless canine with a cool demeanor was just what one Army veteran needed to step out of her comfort zone and start making connections with "the best friend I could have hoped for." Cats before canine Mary grew up in Maine and joined the United States Army after graduating high school in 1978. She was sent to Massachusetts, Texas, and Georgia, and spent two years in Germany working in military intelligence at a post on the East German border. She continued moving around after leaving the service in 1982, and while she had grown up with dogs in the family – mixed-breeds, a Beagle, a German … [Read more...]

Army soldier combats loneliness with “the perfect dog”

Frank and Sam

As a young Army soldier, Frank was not prepared for the loneliness he faced when he and his wife were relocated by the military to a place where the pair had no family or friends. In true Army strong spirit, he battled the blues by adopting a homeless hound who would become "the perfect dog."  A passion to serve In 2012, Frank joined the United States Army as a Watercraft Engineer. After attending basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, he and his wife relocated to Newport News, Virginia, where Frank is stationed at the sprawling Joint Base Langley-Eustis. It was pure heart that … [Read more...]

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