I was deployed as part of Desert Storm. During my deployment we dealt with the war and later the protection of the men who fought the 220 oil fires left after the end of Desert Storm. In that time I was under fire. I even lost friends in the war. People that I counted on and they counted on me. While I was on this deployment I was assaulted at the hands of two of my fellow soldiers. People that I should have been able to count on to respect me and have my back. I lasted 14 years years with this weighing heavy on my psyche.
Since my service I have had difficulty with sleeping, being in crowds, trusting people, and with day to living. The use of my battle buddy makes this possible. The hardest thing for me is shopping. I instantly feel trapped in the store and before my battle buddy I would rush through the store, grab what I needed, and leave often forgetting items on the list. Now I am able to not only go to a store, I am also able to talk with other people and even feel OK to ask a clerk for help. The battle buddy has been far better therapy and assistance than anything that I have tried.
Mine is similar to Leigh's. I was in the Army for 4 years and while I was not deployed my unit supported OEF/OIF with its day to day operations. I was assigned to this unit where I was assaulted and involved with an MST related situation. That night I lost my military career. I could no longer function because my concentration was shot. I could rarely focus or feel safe because of what the people I was suppose to trust took from me. My PTSD has been difficult to deal with and the use of my battle buddy is what saved me. My hyper vigilance and hyper arousal to basic daily life has been lessened to the point that I can feel safe, secure, and like no one is going to harm me. The battle buddy vest helps to connect to my battle buddy and share in my experience on a level that reflects my service.
When I first started with my battle buddy, I saw the vest and thought, I wish this was more distinctive of my military service. To reflect me and what I have been through in my service. I looked for vests and while there are some out there only one spoke to me and that was one that was made from the material of the uniform of the Veteran. I went to order one and was unable to. This was a major disappointment because I thought I had found something I could connect to my battle buddy on another level. Something that my battle buddy could wear as proudly as I wore my uniform. So I made one. I used my sewing skills and put together a vest that reflected my service as well as myself.
In the multiple wars that have occurred in recent history, many veterans have come home damaged mentally, physically, and in spirit. Many of them have a need for a public access animal (service animal/battle buddy), usually a dog, that they can rely on to assist them in getting through their daily routine. All service animals should have a vest that clearly designates them as a service animal to ease access to the places that they go.
Veterans have pride in their service to this country regardless of the injuries received. This project is born out of a desire to link the service dog to that service. Each vest will be an individual creation that is an expression of that service. The vest will utilize the actual uniform shirt, unit patches, name tags, specialty badges, and even the veteran's rank insignia if they choose from their military service. We will endeavor to create a vest unique to that veteran and the relationship they have with their new "battle buddy" (everyone in the military has a battle buddy that watches out for them). The best part is the hope of this crowd funding exercise to provide these at no charge to the veteran with the option to donate to another vet.
This is a project inspired when I went looking for a vest for my service dog. I am a disabled veteran with PTSD and I utilize a service dog and needed a vest for my dog. I wanted a vest that was personalized to my military service to share that honor with my dog that helps me function and serves as a constant battle buddy. I found someone who had started a service to make these, but it sadly seems to be inactive, so I made my own. Once two of my fellow veterans that have service dogs saw the vest, they wanted one so I made them one. Thus an idea is born.
A donation to this campaign will help pay for patches, thread, some fabric (for those without a usable uniform item), it will also pay for the acquisition of a more robust sewing machine than the one I currently have to undertake this project. Once again the idea to give these to the vet as free of any charge as possible.
We will also create original, individual vests for individuals with 50% of the total cost being used to create a veterans vest. Each vest whether a veterans vest or a non-veteran will strive to be a creation that expresses the individuality of the person that needs it. Your support saves lives and helps vets connect to their battle buddy on a deeper level by creating a uniform they can wear proudly beside those that served our country.
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