To find out more about the program at Morgan’s Dogs, check out http://wardogsmakingithome.org
Help at the end of the line. Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder say they often feel like they are at the end of their rope. But when they pick up a leash, they have a new lease on life.
Jay Somers: “I’ve been in Iraq. I was in during Desert Storm and Desert Shield and Operation Enduring Freedom.”
All the while he was in a Navy ship and inside the cockpit of Navy planes.
Jay Somers: “Aircraft that was flying that we ended up taking down had a ton of drug on it heading to the US.”
And with every assignment he was heading down a path to diminished physical and mental health.
Jay Somers: “Being so tall and spending 11 of my 17 years in the service, the lower back, the cartilage wore down, so my back started deteriorating.”
And so did his mood, sometimes seeing what he needed just out of reach.
Jay Somers: “A couple of times we’d be off the coast where you could see the city lights so you know your family is there but you can’t go see them.”
Soon, the stress got so intense, he was no longer able to serve.
Jay Somers: “We had a guy we found hanging from a softball cage. Another guy who shot himself and was still attached to the wall. We stopped a guy who was trying to paint his room with his blood.”
By the time he got home, the family Jay Somers longed for still seemed distant.
Jay Somers: “And I will just yell at everyone for everything. I get real anxious.”
Pamela Somers, Jay’s wife: “It doesn’t just affect one person in the family, it affects the children, it affected me because I didn’t know if I was doing anything wrong.”
The PTSD was so bad, even perfect strangers felt his wrath. That is until Cody calmed him down.
Jay Somers: “I was waiting to turn into a parking lot, parking space, and some girl just cut right in before me. So I whipped around the corner, parked my car and started yelling at her. He gently grabbed my hand, pulled me away, was like ‘c’mon, let’s just go, ignore it.'”
Jay couldn’t ignore him, even from the beginning.
Jay Somers: “The second we met it was like instant connection.”
They met at Morgan’s Dogs. Cody was a shelter dog, one of the first brought here and trained for the War Dogs Making It Home program.
Elana Morgan, dog trainer and owner, Morgan’s Dogs: “We’re saving the dog’s life still, but they’re helping the men and the men in return are rescuing these dogs.
Once the dogs get it down, they go home with their vet.
Elana Morgan: “Interrupting PTSD attacks, calming them during the night, waking them up, so getting them out of a bad place and getting them back to ‘hey you’re in bed, I’m here, okay.’ The dogs are with them 24/7. They sleep with them, they go shopping with them, they’re in the cars with them.”
Pamela Somers: “Since he’s gotten Cody, it’s just been an amazing difference.”
Cody instinctively carries his friend away from his aggression.
Jay Somers: “He takes me out of that moment.”
And he takes him out into the world.
Jay Somers: “He helps me get out the door because I have a small apartment and he’s a big dog and he needs exercise. So now I have to be forced to go out. I have to take him out.”
By taking care of Cody, he better takes care of himself.
Jay: “So he’s like I need you to protect me and I’ll protect you at the same time.”
Danny Kennedy says looking into Frankie’s eyes it erases the most painful images.
Danny Kennedy: “Like the movie Sixth Sense, I see dead people and on really bad days I see blood on my hands.”
For Adrian Lewis-Walker, he couldn’t handle interaction without lots of medication. Then Belle changed his tune.
Adrian Lewis-Walker: “Since she came home I went from taking three valium a day to none for anxiety, which is a huge difference. To be able to go out during the day and not be afraid and not look for the hidden enemy that’s not there anymore.”
And now they found a best friend for life.
Adrian Lewis-Walker: “She has saved my life”
They are considered service dogs and therefore can go with their vets anywhere and everywhere. The War Dogs program at Morgan’s is not for profit. All volunteer.