Pet adoption was not in Linda’s plans until one day when the lonely Marine met a shelter cat who turned her life around.
An honorable daughter
Linda enlisted in the military to help her family and assist them in securing their residency. She served as an administrative specialist in the Marine Corps intelligence schools and, in 2022, separated from service.
While recounting her experience in the Marine Corps, Linda reveals how trauma from service does not always come from enemy lines.
The young veteran shares that she was subject to bullying and hazing. These problems are rarely discussed despite their seriousness and profound impacts on victims.
One study found that more than 12 percent of deployed soldiers are bullied, though female veterans more frequently report being victims of hazing.
Military personnel subject to these types of abusive, often degrading behaviors are at higher risk of Post Traumatic Stress, major depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts.
Linda’s immediate superior was arrested following an abuse investigation.
“When she left I was fairly new and [had] no experience in my job,” she explains. “This was memorable for me because I had to work really hard to get through the trauma and still become the best that I could be.”
Through courage and persistence the young Marine turned her difficult circumstances into a personal triumph.
“I was never an animal person”
In 2022 Linda separated from the Marine Corps and settled in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Although she had moved beyond the emotional abuse from her former superior, Linda felt lost and alone. Her father suggested that she consider adopting a companion pet.
Linda was hesitant.
“I was never an animal person,” she shares.
Nonetheless, the lonely Marine decided to heed her father’s advise and visit Virginia Beach SPCA. While there she learned about Pets for Patriots and our companion pet adoption program for military veterans.
Since 2012, the shelter offers veterans in our program 25 percent off adoption fees and access to their low-cost veterinary clinic.
Despite Linda’s initial reluctance it did not take long for her to find her new best friend.
“I decided to adopt through [Pets for Patriots] because I found the organization wonderful,” she says. “I knew the pets that qualified for adoption would have a harder time getting adopted, so I chose to help one out.”
In early July 2022 Rapunzel was surrendered to the shelter. While there, the then five-and-a-half year-old tortie was showing signs of extreme anxiety – even to the point of being unmanageable at times.
Still, the fetching feline caught Linda’s eye. Perhaps the cat’s inner angst spoke to the lonely Marine who, in her own way, was experiencing anxiety as well.
And so it was that in the middle of August – just three days after being approved into our program – Linda and Rapunzel started their new lives together.
The young veteran who once claimed she was “never an animal person” is now smitten with her new feline friend.
Based upon her experiences Linda encourages other veterans who may feel lonely or alone to adopt a pet through Pets for Patriots.
“Having a pet is so special,” she says, “and this organization is awesome and inspiring.”
Despite Linda’s initial reservations, Rapunzel has filled her life with newfound happiness and Rapunzel is decidedly more relaxed than she had been at the shelter. While she is not the most demonstrative pet, Linda is quick to cherish those moments when the tortie chooses to show her affection.
“I love when Rapunzel cuddles with me,” Linda says. “She isn’t into being picked up and it’s really rare when she gives affection, so cuddling is always special.”
It is difficult to know whose life has been transformed more.
At the time of their adoption Linda was a lonely Marine who was completely disinterested in adopting a pet. Were it not for her father’s urging she may have never visited the animal shelter.
During her stay at the shelter Rapunzel was 12 pounds of high anxiety. While kennel stress is not uncommon, the adult cat seemed unusually anxious. Now her days are filled with nothing but love and tranquility.
“Rapunzel has changed my life forever,” Linda says. “I never knew one could love an animal so deeply. She brings so much happiness to my life. I am genuinely happy with her.”