Hero fund helps Air Force veteran grounded by temporary hardship

Hero fund helps Air Force veteran grounded by temporary hardship

It was no surprise that after the passing of a beloved dog Melody gave hope and a home to another in need. What the Air Force veteran did not expect, however, was to need our hero fund for veterinary care when life took an unexpected turn.

“…a matter of life or death”

Enlisting in the Air Force held a lot of promise for Melody. She hoped to serve in one capacity, but got assigned and trained in an altogether different field.

“I entered the service intending to be an interpreter at an embassy, but instead because of test scores was trained to be a medical service specialist,” she explains. “This meant working as what is in civilian life is a nurse.”

The young medical specialist was stationed at a clinic in New Hampshire before being transferred to a California military hospital. After her tour of duty Melody separated from the Air Force in California and re-entered the civilian world.

Melody was just a teen when she enlisted. Serving in a healthcare capacity she witnessed the highs and lows of the human condition, and everything in between. These experiences would inform her worldview for the rest of her days.

“My most memorable experiences in the service was as a very young person of 19 experiencing both death, and having the privilege of watching the miracle of birth,” she says. “It makes you realize that all the troubles in this life are minor unless it is a matter of life or death.”

Long since separated from service, Melody credits her military duty with giving her perspective in life – and grit.

“I have kept that knowledge close to my heart ever since and it has served to keep me very resilient in life.”

All aboard the Love Train

Melody’s family was heartbroken when their dog Zoe died of kidney failure, despite the veteran’s best efforts to sustain her life.

“My wonderful brother, a Marine, sent me a birthday present of money. It just sat,” she says. “Before losing Zoe, we had been looking for a dog to be company for her. Nothing happened and I knew later that it was better because I had to focus all my attention on trying to help Zoe, which involved much care [and] which ultimately bought her only one more month.”

Eventually Melody summoned her trademark grit and started to search for a new pet. She learned about Pets for Patriots and our companion pet adoption program for military veterans. Her local shelter, Humane Society of Huron Valley, was one of our partners.

Hero fund helps Air Force veteran grounded by temporary hardship

Since 2011 the shelter has offered half-priced adoptions to veterans through our partnership and a ten percent discount at their full-service veterinary clinic.

“…I wanted to adopt through this program because it gave me the opportunity to get a wonderful pet at a reduced fee, and give another chance to a pet who might otherwise be passed over as not the cute little puppy stage.”

Melody and her family visited the shelter after the arrival of the Love Train. This lifesaving program transports pets from struggling shelters and brings them to the Humane Society of Huron Valley for adoption.

“We looked at all the dogs available and were about to leave when our daughter Leigha said, ‘Let’s go look at the puppies from Love Train.'”

The Air Force veteran had other ideas.

“Well, we were not looking for a puppy,” she says.

Melody soon discovered that the Love Train had adult animals, too, and others who would be eligible for the benefits of our program. Mopsie was one such dog.

Next stop: home

Perhaps it was fate that caused Melody and her family to stop by the kennel of a terrified, brindle-coated Boston Terrier. Dogs and cats who are trembling in their kennels tend not to attract the most enthusiastic passersby.

Yet the little dog caught Melody’s eye. The frightened pup spoke to the Air Force veteran’s caring and compassionate nature.

“She was quiet and scared from all the noise, and the new place after a long trip in a van,” Melody recalls. “We took her outside and she was still quiet and shy, but she walked on lead with my husband Tony quite well.”

Hero fund helps Air Force veteran grounded by temporary hardship

No one knows exactly where Mopsie was transported from or what her life was like before she arrived at this particular shelter. But it did not matter to the Melody or the rest of her family.

“We fell in love,” she says. “We took her home. Much to our surprise she bloomed into a total character.”

Mopsie was swiftly renamed Brindie. Once again, Melody’s family included a dog and the cycle of life continued.

The best laid plans

While Melody’s days working outside the home are over she is still a woman with a long to-do list. She is raising 10 year-old Leigha, and putting Leigha’s older sister through college.

Despite the profound rewards of parenthood the Air Force veteran looks forward to a time when life is a bit less unsettled.

“In summer of last year we moved from Michigan to South Carolina for what we hoped was our last move,” she says. “Right after me and the girls relocated though, my husband lost his contract job here.”

Moving once again so soon after this major relocation is not an option for the family. For the time being they are staying put.

“Right now, we don’t know where we will end up,” Melody says, “but we do not want to leave South Carolina where the beaches and area around [are] truly beautiful and the people are as warm as the weather.”

For the love of Brindie

Now five years old, Brindie continues to bring unbridled joy to her family. She bears no resemblance to the dog Melody discovered cowering in a shelter kennel.

“Brindie always makes us happy. She loves her squeak toys and walks around with them squeaking like she is talking with the squeaks!” Melody shares. “She is a total goofy girl and so loving. Her favorite person is my husband and I wish it was me.”

Still, the Air Force veteran loves her adopted dog’s quirky personality and zest for life. She does admit that it is much like having a small child around the house. Fortunately, she finds that aspect of Brindie’s personality endearing.

“What we love most about Brindie is how she is a funny little character who drops her squeak toys everywhere she goes like a toddler!” she exclaims. “Could not ask for more.”

Hero fund for veterinary care to the rescue

Family is everything to Melody, two- and four-legged. So the Air Force veteran was comforted to join our pack when she applied to our program and adopted Brindie.

“Mostly it is just a great way to adopt if you are a veteran because you get to feel like part of the Pets for Patriots ‘family’ as they check back with you at milestones,” she says. “Never have I adopted before from such a caring organization.”

Hero fund helps Air Force veteran grounded by temporary hardship

Our follow up starts before an actual adoption occurs and runs for at least a year after welcoming a pet home. Many veterans stay in touch with us for years.

“They will be there for you all along the way from initial adoption to milestones and if you encounter issues, will help you with that too,” she says.

The Air Force veteran recently experienced those other “issues” that make her grateful to be part of our pack. Brindie is benefiting from our hero fund for veterinary care due to the family’s temporary financial hardship.

Our hero fund assists with urgent, life extending, or palliative care that would place an undue financial burden on a veteran. It is available only to those who have adopted through our program.

Requests are evaluated on an individual basis so that we can use our resources to help as many medically needy animals as possible.

“After being involved more with Pets for Patriots we got the chance to see so much of what they do to help, and have the utmost respect for this organization,” she says. “We, too, have had the help offered to us during our financial crisis.”

Will you help pets in need get essential medical care? Click here to direct your donation to our hero fund.


  1. Alyson

    Thank you for your service. I love how Brindie has become a beautiful member of your family. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Mary Eaton

    Thank you for opening your heart in welcoming Brindie to the family as well as your service. Hoping for a good outcome with the transition of your husband needing to find other work and that he might be able to get a job locally so that you won’t have to move again. In the meantime, a day at a time and when you need some comfort maybe Brindie will be just what you need!

  3. Panda J.

    Thank you for your service, Melody. I too lost my sweet furbaby to kidney disease, in Oct. 2016. I know how hard that is to go through, and my heart goes out to you. I’m so glad that you and your family found Brindie, and that you were willing to give her a loving home. It’s easy to see in the pictures here that it was a match made in Heaven for everyone involved. God Bless you and your family.

  4. Mary Armbrust

    Every blessing to this wonderful family who opened their hearts and home to Brindie! Thank you for your service, Melody! I am a “two time chooser” with Pets for Patriots and love to read every vet’s story. I adopted Rocky the Magnificent and when he passed, in his honor, I adopted a special character – a kitty loving pittie from New York City named Pedro the Goofy now named Gumby. This is a great group of veterans and a great community led by a remarkable lady. We are blessed!

Give with Confidence

candid platinum transparency 2023
candid platinum transparency 2023
candid platinum transparency 2023
candid platinum transparency 2023
Petco Foundation

Shop 1800PetMeds for all of your pet’s health needs and we’ll get 10% of your purchase!

Shop BISSELL for your home cleaning needs and they will donate 10% of your purchase to us!

Because a shelter is not a home

Long-term shelter pets available for adoption