A Blessing from God
by Marine Corp Veteran, John
I applied for a service dog because I have many physical disabilities from my time in the Marine Corps that make daily life difficult. I was fortunate that the VA quickly agreed with my request to be approved for a service dog based on my current disabilities. I also wanted a dog that could be crossed trained in both physical and emotional support. I have PTSD from my time in the service and as a firefighter/paramedic, I am alone a lot during the day, and I sometimes have difficulty doing simple things as bending over, or gripping items as well as feeling depressed when I am alone. I have bad anxiety and I felt that a service dog could help me deal with my anxiety and keep it under control, especially out in public.
I spent six years in the Marine Corps, (2001-2007). I was a combat engineer and a martial arts instructor. I did two tours to Iraq, once in 2003 then again in 2006. I was responsible for conducting route clearance patrols. Basically, in a nutshell, I drove around the worst parts of Iraq looking for roadside bombs. Once found, I would disarm them and then dispose of the bomb. I have been blown up 12 times, disarmed 15 bombs, and assisted in disarming another 14 bombs. One of my 12 explosions, I was wounded from the blast wave and shrapnel. The shrapnel hit my shin and broke a piece of the bone, which is no longer intact. I also sustained blown eardrums, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, and nerve and soft tissue damage to my left thigh, and my hips were also tweaked so they are not in the correct alignment anymore.
When I first met Ben, I instantly felt a feeling of happiness come over me. I had just been discharged from the hospital the day before. I self-admitted myself to the mental health department of the VA for increased PTSD symptoms. I was having suicidal thoughts due to my depression and anxiety being out of control after the VA made a medication mistake. I was still feeling pretty down and anxious until I walked into the room and met Ben. He came right up to me and I instantly felt at ease and all of the negative emotions were filled with positive emotions as Ben and I started to get to know each other.
Ben has helped me physically when it comes to balance, mobility. He has been a good companion and has helped me keep my anxiety and depression under control.
He has been a positive impact on my life. I feel that he is allowing me to be able to return to a much more normal lifestyle, with less pain from not having to do things on my own, and I feel that he has made a positive impact on my emotional state, because I now have someone looking out for me, 24/7 and helping me cope with my emotional issues.
I would like to thank Get-Wet-For-A-Vet and ICAN for making this opportunity possible. Words cannot describe how thankful and appreciative I am for these two organizations and their team members. I feel that I have hit rock bottom in life and have been drug through the rough terrain of life. I honestly feel that this opportunity is a blessing from God and that I am finally starting to climb out of the hole I have been in for so many years. – John
John, Bennie, ICAN Handler Nan & friend Judy