There is no greater joy than watching my son and service dog playfully chase each other around the trampoline in our backyard. Not too long ago, this was a moment I couldn’t enjoy. As a proud veteran who served our great nation, I have carried the scars of my service with me for years. The invisible battle within me continues to rage, manifesting itself as PTSD.
Returning home from the service was challenging; every day was a struggle. I hesitated to go out in public, especially when facing large crowds. I found myself constantly on edge, keeping a watchful eye on the exits as my hypervigilance kicked in. Even the simplest everyday sounds, like the slam of a door or the drop of an object, would send me into a state of overwhelming anxiety.
Upon researching organizations that provide service dogs for veterans with PTSD, I discovered GDA|TLC, and in May of this year, they paired me with Wander, my newfound source of hope and healing. He’s been right by my side ever since – he is just so incredible. I love him; he’s just the best!
For a long time, I felt trapped in the shadows of my own experiences. I struggled to find the strength to face each day. Wander has made everyday tasks manageable again. For example, I can now go to the grocery store with ease. I no longer worry about people invading my personal space, and he has erased the burden of anxiety in bustling crowds. Because of Wander, I was finally able to focus on school and earn my degree in Business Administration and Logistics!
Wander is not only a tremendous blessing for me, but for our entire family. His help allows me to be present and we can finally go to the places and do the things we have long dreamed about. With Wander, I can finally be the parent and partner I have always wanted to be. I understand my battle with PTSD won’t go away, but Wander has equipped me with the tools to cope with my symptoms.
In Wander, I have found a beacon of light, a source of comfort, and a lifeline to a brighter future. That is why I am asking you to support this year’s Holidays of Hope campaign. There are other veterans out there, like me, who need the vital assistance of a service dog. They, too, are more than just heroes. They’re brothers, mothers, sisters, fathers, etc., whose families want them back. Help them find the peace and hope they fought so hard to protect.
Thank you, GDA|TLC. We are forever grateful!
Brown and Wander
Brown joined the Army in July of 2006, where she served for twelve years as a Logistics Specialist and was deployed twice during her military career. During her second deployment to Afghanistan, Brown suffered a mortar attack while in a building that left her with PTSD. She now struggles with not only PTSD, but anxiety, and depression as well.
With Wander by her side, it’s easier for Brown to go out in public, and he’s made it possible for her to participate in the things she enjoys. With the help of Wander, Brown has been able to finish college this year and receive her bachelor’s degree in business administration, specializing in Logistics.