I’m Adam. I am currently going through a medical retirement from the Army after nearly 22 years of service in the Texas National Guard and the Army Reserve. During that span, I had a yearlong deployment to Iraq in 2005-2006, plus another 4-5 years’ worth of stateside active duty tours. Making the decision to accept retirement was a difficult one. While I am proud to be leaving the service as a lieutenant colonel, I still had nearly 10 years of notional service time as an officer still ahead of me, and a desire to continue to give back through my military service. But ultimately, a combination of medical conditions and non-combat service injuries took a toll on my health and stamina and I knew it was time for me to say goodbye.
Although I knew I was clearly eligible, I was reluctant to look into a service dog program. With so many fellow veterans out there with issues so much more serious and more life-changing than mine, I felt like I shouldn’t waste anyone’s time. But ultimately, I thought back to the many times over the years when I suddenly needed emergency medical care. Fortunately, in most instances, I was able to call for help myself, or had others nearby who could. But I kept thinking about how many times I had just barely been within reach of help. What if the emergency happened an hour earlier than it did when I was alone? Or if it had happened when I was 10 blocks further into my walk where no one else was around? Or what if I had left my phone behind somewhere, or the emergency was severe enough such that I couldn’t dial?
Ultimately, I approached Give Us Paws, who have been fantastic from the start. They reassured me that a service dog would be a very appropriate tool in the long-term management of my conditions and injuries. Unlike many veteran families, we don’t currently have a dog in the house. But even there, Give Us Paws is helping us do this right; Paul is right there beside us, helping us to evaluate potential rescue dogs for the training.
We are just beginning our journey, but we are grateful for the added safety & security the Give Us Paws program will be bringing to our family.