Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) Peter Nolan served over 17 years in the United States Marine Corps. Over the course of his enlistment he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and several bilateral exercises around the globe.
In the early morning hours of 9 April 2003 the Marines of Regimental Combat Team Five made the final assault to secure Baghdad, Iraq. GySgt Nolan’s platoon drove directly into an ambush, whether strategically or poorly aimed, an RPG skimmed across the bow of his 26-ton Assault Amphibious Vehicle (AAV) striking a parked refueling truck. The massive explosion and concussive wave knocked him unconscious. During this time there was very little, if any at all, understanding of how concussive waves from a blast affected our service members physically, mentally and emotionally. GySgt. Nolan, like many other combat veterans suffers from the physical and emotional scares that are inherent to war.
I was watching Channel 8 when Steve Andrews investigative report on Peter and the difficulties that his family and him are enduring. I thought how could we help this service member? As the Founder of St. Francis Society Animal Rescue in Tampa, FL in 1997, an advocate and animal lover, and knowing how service dogs have helped so many others I have made it my mission to find GySgt. Nolan a trained Service dog. After meeting and talking with Peter and Stephanie, I was able to locate an organization in Florida that already had a 12-week-old Labradoodle and were ready to start the long training process. The Labradoodle is a hypoallergenic breed which is critical due to them having asthma and allergies within the household.
The Labradoodle will be trained for public access, block and search and deep pressure (jump to chest for attention). After 10 months of training (which started May 12th), Peter will spend 5 days with the trainer getting to know and learning how to handle his new best friend.
There are a few organizations in the United States who specifically focus on this type of training. Unfortunately, the demand exceeds the available resources. In some cases the waiting period for veterans to receive their fully trained service dog is in excess of 24 months. These veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI, etc. do not have 2+ years to wait; especially when the suicide rate is increasing. In addition, the cost to train and place a service dog is approximately $30,000. The VA does not provide service dogs to veterans.
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
This brings me back to my mission. In order to connect Peter and this service dog, we need to raise the funds to cover the cost of the Labradoodle, training, room and board, spayed/neutered and vaccinations. We need your assistance to make this a possible reality for Peter over the next ten months. We have arranged with the dog trainer to pay in 3 installments totaling $13,000 - a third of the cost of the average service dog. The remaining $3000 will be set up in an account for future veterinarian costs.