Shelter dog a Naval aviator’s port in the storm

Damian and Bella Dodgers Stadium

Damian had a long Naval career as an aviator and flight instructor. After years of constant change, he embraced post-military life and shared his newly permanent roots with a friend: a shelter dog named Bella. Although mobility is a job requirement of anyone in the military, relocating is still a complex event and can take its toll. The effects of constant moves – often called ‘mobility syndrome,’ ‘relocation stress’ and ‘relo shock’ – have been analyzed by many experts over the years.One thing is not in dispute: constant change is often the only sure thing military personnel experience during … [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...]

For the love of veterans and shelter pets

Beth and Bunny

As the founder of a nationally operating charity dedicated to veterans and last-chance shelter pets, I'm not in the habit of talking about myself. Yet I've been asked 'Why did you start Pets for Patriots?' more times than I can count, so I've decided to share my story in the hopes that it might help those Pets for Patriots was founded to serve.Who, me?The simple truth is that I never imagined I would someday be running a nonprofit organization, much less starting one from scratch during what will be remembered as the worst economic recession of our day. I'm not one of those people you read or … [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...]

Shelter dog helps Navy sailor expand her world

Jessica and Henley

A Navy sailor found her world feeling limited and lonely, but that all changed when an adopted shelter dog opened her eyes to the life she was missing. A lonely military life Jessica is currently serving in her second enlistment, and for the next three years is stationed at a shore-based training center in San Diego. She previously served on board the USS Boxer and MSRON 5, both of which took her far from familiar shores. “So far my most memorable experience has been pulling into port after spending 110 days out to sea," says Jessica. "It was the biggest relief and a bit of a culture shock … [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...]

Abandoned dog teaches Navy veteran life lessons

Clarke kids and Laila 3

Laila was a down on her luck dog in a New Jersey shelter, but she still had important lessons to share with the Navy veteran who gave her a second chance at life. Navy an opportunity for self improvement Clarke served in the Navy from 1994-1997, during which time he was often at sea. Like many recruits, he saw military service as a way to improve himself. “I chose to enter the military to make a positive difference in my life,” Clarke recalls. The Navy veteran was stationed on the USS Nimitz and completed two tours in the Persian Gulf, including deployment as part of Operation Southern … [Read more...]

Shelter dog gives hope to Navy veteran battling chronic depression

Michael and Bear

Michael is a Navy veteran who for years has battled chronic depression. His decision to adopt a shelter dog to save his own life in fact saved two - his and that of a large mixed breed dog - and was more than two years in the making. Thanks to our partnership with Lollypop Farm Humane Society of Greater Rochester for helping make this story possible, as told in Michael's own words. Navy gives veteran a sense of purpose and value I was a Nuke ELT in the Navy. After my training I spent the rest of my enlistment assigned to the USS Virginia CGN38. I got to see a lot of the Caribbean while the … [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...]

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