"American soldiers don't fight because they hate the ones in front of them. They fight because they love the ones they left behind." Author Unknown
Jay served 14 years active duty in the US Navy. He has completed multiple combat tours in the Middle East and North Arabian Gulf. He has since been diagnosed with Combat related PTSD and Non-service related TBI. This sometimes makes functioning at even a basic level a struggle. He battles problems with night terrors, sleep disorder, focusing on tasks, and dealing with anxiety levels that spiral out of control into panic attacks. These obstacles consume much of his life and energy, preventing him from enjoying activities and most human interactions. It has been affecting his marriage and his relationship with his daughter for years. He feels that it is impossible for him to be a healthy part of any relationship.
Jay received Alex from the non profit organization, Hampton Roads Hounds for Heroes (HRH4H). Which has since been disastablished. Alex is named after Alex Cuevas, a US Marine that lost his battle with PTSD. With Alex's help we hope this never happens to Jay.
Family medical issues required Jay to spend several weeks out of state and out of work. During this time Alex experienced some regression in his behavior. Mutts with a Mission, another great veteran service dog group doing amazing work with veterans and their service dogs, generously stepped in to help after HRH4H closed. Unfortunately things didn't work out. The time apart and loss of continuous training caused Alex to become protective of Jay, barking at other people and dogs has become a major problem. To where it has made it too stressful for Jay to take Alex into public. Alex hates staying home and not being able to do his job. In Alex's world Jay is the most important person. Alex sees Jay as perfect, not broken, not shy, not quiet, not a hermit, not lazy, not angry, not hyper vigilant and most of all, not missing the pieces of himself he didn't return with.
Jay has been offered other dogs but is not willing to let Alex go. He has become a big part of the family and a huge part of Jay.
It's hard to explain how much a service animal can improve the life of a veteran like Jay. Having a partner with you all the time that you know has your back. Confidence and a feeling of security can be greatly improved with Alex trained to be Jay's service dog.
Alex's ultimate training goals will include, Night terrors (he can recognize and react accordingly), Hyper-vigilance (He can keep people at a distance Jay is comfortable with and watch his back), and stability issues (He is large enough to provide a place for Jay to reach out to catch his balance). Once Alex completes training and successfully passes testing he will be "Jay's service dog". Specifically trained to help Jay.
All money raised will go towards Alex’s professional training classes to become a service dog. Jay has done extensive research and has located an highly recommended service dog trainer, Off Leash K9 Training of Hampton Roads, who is willing to work with him & Alex. It will require
2 weeks of board and training cost $2800, but Off leash K9 of Hampton Roads has a generous veterans discount of $400.
Followed by 12 weeks of private training that will range from $1200 to $2400 depending on Alex’s progress.
After Alex completes training and successful testing Jay can apply to the VA for assistance with veterinary expenses.
Our brothers and sisters have put themselves in harms way for our country, our freedom, our way of life. Many return with the visable scars of battle, while others suffer with invisible wounds, like Jay.
As a veteran with invisible battle scars Jay constantly feels judged and will be the first to tell you that others have it worse. That has never been the point. Jay has PTSD because he was willing to stand in the darkness between us and the ones determined to do us harm. All our service members deserve everything we can do to help them get their lives back together after coming home. I pray they all get the help they need.
Like many veterans Jay also struggles with survivors remorse. Constantly feels guilty for making it home alive when so many didn’t. These are the feelings he takes with him every time he walks out the door. I'm confident that Alex can help Jay achieve a better quality of life. With our help, they can resume working on that goal together.
Jay has expressed that he has seen and experienced things he wishes he could forget. Things that keep him up at night, and give him panic attacks. Things that make him want to spend his life in bed far away from the world. Visions and memories that creep into his head and as hard as he tries, he can’t focus on anything else. Things that at his lowest made him contemplate taking his own life.
Please feel free to contact me, Jay or Elena if you have any questions or would like additional information. All donations are very helpful and we understand if you can't or if you choose not to donate for any reason, but please share Jay's story with as many as you can. "Many hands make for a lighter load" or something like that. Thank you and God bless
- Rob Kerr
- Kevin Doran
- Kevin Ferguson
- Trina Newby