Three Veterans Find True Independence This Independence Day

Coconut Telegraph

SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING SATURDAY JUL 4, 2020

For three new service dog graduates, July 4, 2020 has a very special meaning. 

These veterans, who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, marked the first service dog class to return to the Southeastern Guide Dogs campus since the beginning of the coronavirus shutdown in March. While many organizations have not yet resumed operations, Southeastern Guide Dogs is welcoming students back to campus following the implementation of rigorous protocols for the health and safety of staff, volunteers and dogs. 

These three heroes, representing 30 years of service in the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps, finished their 11 days of training at the end of June, and left for their Florida homes with their new, four-legged best friends. After years of struggling with the isolation, anxiety, hyper-vigilance and other challenges of PTSD, Independence Day arrives with renewed hope for living lives filled with freedom and new possibilities.

When the fireworks explode in the sky on July 4, Teresa, Marc and Mike will have their service dogs by their sides to offer them comfort. 

Teresa is an Army veteran who did not know that she could be eligible for a service dog for her PTSD until she learned about Southeastern Guide Dogs from her VA counselor. Now, her dog Scott reassures her with his combination of alertness and calm, replacing her fears with hope.

Navy veteran Marc did six deployments around the world, retiring to civilian life in 2015. But anxiety and depression derailed his future. Enter easygoing, smart Scooter, who has relieved Marc's PTSD symptoms and given him new joy.

Even though he lived just 12 minutes from Southeastern Guide Dogs for years, Marine Mike knew nothing about service dogs. Now his 17-year struggle with PTSD has been tempered by an affectionate, energetic dog named Ryan, who makes all the difference in Mike's outlook.

If you are a veteran or know one who could benefit from the extraordinary gifts of a Southeastern Guide Dogs service dog, please apply today. Our services and dogs are provided at no cost and include extensive benefits such as premium dog food, yearly veterinary wellness care, vaccines and preventatives for the life of a guide or service dog team. Learn more.

Pictured: Southeastern Guide Dogs Service dog class #289, Teresa and service dog Scott, trainer Anne Savo, Marc and service dog Scooter, trainer Laska Parrow, and Mike and service dog Ryan.

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