Tim still has invisible wounds from his deployment to Kuwait. But the Desert Storm veteran found a lifeline years later at his local animal shelter.
The storm before the storm
Life has changed for Tim in many ways since his service in the Navy. He works at an Ohio dealership parts department, has two adult daughters, and will soon celebrate 30 years of marriage to his wife, Cindy.
Tim is proud of the important role he played during his four year tour of duty.
“My job was a boiler tech/chem supervisor,” he says.
In 1996 the boiler technician rating was disestablished and replaced by machinist’s mate. These enlisted personnel are responsible for the maintenance and repair of a wide range of critical machinery on ship. This includes everything from propulsion and steering machinery to refrigeration, cooling, and air-conditioning equipment.
The Navy veteran is equally proud of being deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm. The military campaign was executed by 35 partner nations in response to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait.
“I spent four years in the Navy on the USS Saratoga CV60,” Tim says, referring to the aircraft carrier. “I served in Desert Storm and spent eight months over there, fighting for the people of Kuwait and the USA.”
While there were many memorable moments over the course of Tim’s years in service, two stand out in his mind to this day. The first is actually serving during Desert Storm; the second is a far happier memory.
“The HUGE homecoming when we got back the [Naval station] Mayport, [in] Florida.”
Tim separated from the Navy after his enlistment was fulfilled. Even though he had no physical wounds from his service, it would be the unseen wounds of war that would mark his days for years to come.
Desert Storm veteran gets a four-legged lifeline
Many veterans cope with the emotional aftermaths of their military service for their entire lives, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is estimated that 12 percent of Desert Storm veterans experience PTSD in a given year.
In 2019, just days after Thanksgiving, Tim would take a positive step towards dealing with his emotional stress. He decided to adopt a dog.
“I was needing that family fur baby that would kinda be an ESA animal,” he shares, “and someone that could help get me through stuff just by bring there.”
An ESA or Emotional Support Animal is a personal pet whose mere presence is assistive to someone with an emotional disability.
Unlike a service animal, an ESA is not specially trained to perform tasks to address his handler’s disability. Nor is an ESA permitted where pets are otherwise prohibited – with two exceptions.
In no-pet housing, landlords must make a reasonable accommodation for an ESA. And residences that allow pets are not permitted to charge a pet deposit.
ESAs are able to accompany their guardians in the cabin of commercial aircraft as well. However, many airlines are putting stricter criteria in place due to the widespread abuse of this federal right.
For the love of cheese and fruit
Tim applied was approved into our companion pet adoption program a few days before Thanksgiving. He wasted no time after the holiday to visit his local animal shelter, our partners Humane Society of Richland County.
Since 2012 the shelter has offered veterans in our program 30 percent off adoption fees when they adopt program-eligible dogs or cats.
A then four-and-a-half year-old hound mix named Gouda – like the cheese – fit the bill.
What limited documents are available suggest that Gouda was in the shelter since March or April of 2019. She is a large breed dog with a a sweet, intelligent face, and beautiful brown eyes.
Just two days after Thanksgiving Tim adopted Gouda and promptly renamed her Peaches. Not a day has gone by since that the Desert Storm veteran is not thankful to have this once homeless hound in his life.
A true Belle
So Gouda became Peaches, and in time Peaches would be renamed Belle. And like her name, Belle is a work in progress.
“[She’s] great with tons of stuff, but needs some training on walks,” he says. “That bloodhound nose of hers gets her into trouble.”
Yet despite following her nose to places or things where it does not belong, Belle fulfills her most important duty. She is a comfort and best friend to Tim when the Desert Storm veteran needs her most.
“Belle has been so good for me and I think for her too!” he exclaims. “She has got me going for walks and doing even more outdoors. I can feel so much comfort from her when I’m down with my PTSD.”
“She shows so much love…”
Tim is so delighted with his adoption experience that he encourages other veterans to adopt a dog or cat through our program. He appreciates our support both before, during, and long after the adoption.
“You are a great program and a great group of people that are there for us vets and the animals,” he says. “Anyone that cares as much as you all do is a wonderful thing out there!”
Pets for Patriots is proud to serve veterans across the country. We make it easy to learn how our program works, available benefits, and for veterans to see if they may qualify to apply.
But our most important work is to help each veteran we serve adopt a pet for life. We offer a range of benefits and ongoing support to keep people and their pets together.
Belle has proven her worth as Tim’s four-legged therapist. She delights in his company; her mere presence has helped him with the effects of PTSD. Whenever he returns from work she jumps and whines as though she has not seen him in years.
“She shows so much love,” he says, “and I can feel and see a huge bond between us.”
Thank you for your service, I am an Air Force veteran myself and I also adopted a pet through Pets For Patriots! Beth and her organization are great!
Gouda, Peaches, and and now Belle, is a beautiful girl, I just hope she can figure out who she is:)
My prayers are with you and your family as well as for Belle, my hopes are that Belle has accomplished the goal you were so needing to achieve!
John A. Smaldone
Thank you for your service. As a mom of a army national gaurd soldier that was deployed in Afghanistan last year I understand that service is traumatic for the soldier AND his family.
Shelter dogs and cats provide an opportunity to heal and with unconditional love help ground and protect you and your family every day. Every animal in our family with the exception of my horses have been strays or shelter pets and I know I could not survive long with out them.
God bless you, your family and Belle and again thank you for your service.
Loved the great pictures and story. I’m so glad that you found a wonderful dog companion to enhance your life and your family’s. Thank you for your service!
Thank you for your service, Tim. The pictures you shared here made me smile today and I thank you for that, too. Belle is a lovely girl, and it’s easy to see the two of you belong together. God Bless you and all your family, both human and canine.
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