Our veterans serve for many reasons, chief among them the defense of our liberties. For William, this battle is personal. And it extends beyond his fellow citizens to include a chronically homeless dog who was longing for a chance to be free.
The coming storm
In 1990, William enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Ft Leonard Wood, Missouri. Shortly after being assigned there Operation Desert Storm began. He noticed a change in the tempo of daily life on base.
“Needless to say, training intensified,” he says.
After about 18 months William transferred to the Ohio Army National Guard, from which he separated in 1994 with an honorable discharge. His Military Occupational Specialty, or MOS, was 63 W Heavy Wheel Vehicle Repair. This critical role is responsible for a wide range of repair and support to a variety of wheeled military assets.
“I worked on everything from generators to five-ton trucks,” William says. “Though I was Heavy Wheel Vehicle, I did work on a track vehicle and even worked on a 20,000-pound forklift. Mechanic of all trades, as it were.”
William has always been motivated by a need to excel and to continuously better himself. This drive led to one of his more precious memories from his time in service.
“The last time I qualified with my M-16 I shot a perfect score, 40/40, and walked away with the top score in my unit. I was always a good shot growing up skeet- and trap-shooting, winning trophies, and turkey shoots winning several prizes,” he explains. “I needed to succeed and I did. This stayed with me in life, which makes it so hard now.”
William’s Army days are long over and in some ways offer fond memories of a time when he was able to do more.
“Right now I am just trying to live day by day,” he shares. “Due to injuries I am unable to work, which is hard for me to deal with.”
For the love of dog
Despite his injuries, William tries to stay positive and look ahead. Family is everything to him.
“My daughter is pregnant and I will soon be a grandfather,” he says. “She is having a girl so should be an adventure having a granddaughter.”
Still, life is not the same as it once had been and William found himself downtrodden. His counselor nurtured an idea the Army veteran had long pondered: adopting a dog.
“I have always wanted to have a dog. I grew up with dogs in the family,” he says. “But as life has kicked me hard lately my therapist thought it would be good for me to have a companion animal.”
William started his search online, the way many people do. That is when he discovered Pets for Patriots and our companion pet adoption program for United States military veterans.
“I found Pets for Patriots who made this come true.”
Things were starting to fall into place for the disabled veteran. Life was about to change for the better.
Miller finds his hero
William lives in a town with a population of less than 3,000 people. Fortunately, our program is available in communities across the country – whether urban, suburban or rural.
Geauga Humane Society Rescue Village joined our free shelter partner program in 2012. The organization offers a 25% adoption fee discount and ‘day one’ essentials to veterans who adopt program-eligible dogs and cats through our partnership.
In the shelter’s care was a senior dog who had spent much of his life homeless. His life was about to change for the better, too.
Miller was eight years, two months and 23 days old when the chronically homeless dog was finally adopted. William is his hero.
“Miller, my dog, is my buddy,” the Army veteran says. “He helps me as much as I do him. He has spent most of his life in a shelter, which is no way to live.”
Chronically homeless dog is Army veteran’s new mission
William’s new buddy Miller is his world. The veteran feels strongly about having given the older dog something that he believes everyone deserves.
“We serve for many reasons and freedom is something we cherish. I feel dogs deserve this too,” he explains. “Miller now knows what it is to belong to a family and be free and not stuck in a cage. In the Army we depended on each other and these animals depend on us.”
Ever loyal, the Army veteran vows to give Miller the love and liberty that the senior dog was denied for too many years. He credits our nonprofit for helping to make it all happen.
“Pets for Patriots made it possible for me to adopt my dog,” William says. “The support and help I received was necessary for me to be able to get my dog. They are the perfect organization and I can never thank them enough for what they did for me.”
For his part, Miller not only has his freedom; he has the enduring love of his veteran. This once chronically homeless dog seems to know that he is finally home with William.
“I love that he is my dog, that he has a sense of protection toward me,” the Army veteran shares. “He is older, but plays like a pup. He is always happy to see me.”
Lean on me
Like many veterans, William has been through some difficult times. He believes the sense of duty that military personnel have towards one another is a reason other veterans should think about adopting a companion pet.
“What I would say to all my brothers and sisters who have served, if you are thinking about adopting through Pets for Patriots I say do it. It really is good for you and will help. We relied on each other while serving, we were able to count on each other,” he says. “Well that is what you will find with your new pet and with this organization. Trust me I know, I have been through it, it can get tough, be rough. This organization will be there for you all the way as will your pet.”
We provide a range of benefits to make pet guardianship more affordable for veterans and follow up with our adoptees for at least one year. But it is the companion pets themselves who are the real saviors to the people who adopt them.
William knows this firsthand.
“My dog has giving me emotional support, he gets me up and moving no matter the pain. He loves me no matter what and I have a sense of duty again,” he says. “[It] may sound strange to you, but it is something I need. He is always there for me.”