Larry and Odie
After serving in the U.S. Army for 22 years, it was tough for me to transition from military life to civilian life. I’ve lived in Prescott for the past five years since retiring from the military. I’m 100% disabled due to PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. Before finding the Soldier’s Best Friend service dog program, I stayed at home all the time, hiding from society. I didn’t go anywhere unless it was in the middle of the night when there were less people around. I’ve attempted suicide before and had thoughts of suicide. My life has changed drastically for the good since going through the SBF program and graduating. I’m willing to drive and willing to go places. Odie is with me 24/7 and senses my anxiety and discomfort. He gives me hugs and helps me refocus to bring down my anxiety. It’s like he’s telling me, “I’m here. I’m your battle buddy. We can get through it.” My life with my wife is better now too because I’m not always on edge. I feel SBF has enhanced my life because now I’m able to go out in the community. In fact, I would say SBF saved my life. Since having Odie, I no longer have suicidal thoughts. Before I was depressed, always on high alert and had high anxiety. I’m still on high alert, but Odie is with me.
Since graduating the program, I’m staying active with SBF by helping to mentor veterans who are in training in my area. It helps them to see a veteran that graduated, understands what it’s like to be in combat and to struggle after coming home. So far, I’ve helped three other veterans apply for the program and plan to help many others.