Rescue hound helps Vietnam veteran battle invisible wounds of war

Rescue hound helps Vietnam veteran battle invisible wounds of war

Bob is a Vietnam veteran plagued by the trauma of war. Decades later he finds peace and purpose with a once homeless hound.

Call of duty

In June 1963 Bob enlisted in the Army, following a long and proud family legacy of service to country.

“My decision to join was because my entire family served in various branches of the military during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam,” he says, “and I felt it was my responsibility to continue the family tradition.”

Upon completion of his training Bob was dispatched to Korea, soon followed by assignment to Germany. But he was ultimately deployed to Vietnam during the height of the war.Rescue hound helps Vietnam veteran battle invisible wounds of war

Bob served in the artillery for his entire tour of duty.

While in Germany the young soldier completed non-commissioned officer academy and earned the rank staff sergeant. He was just 22 years old.

“My expertise was in fire direction control,” he says, “and was [in] one of the first units to train on the first computer system being developed for the artillery, called FADAC.”

Field Artillery Digital Automatic Computer, or FADAC, was designed to compute artillery firing data in field. It was even able to integrate climate data collected by weather balloons.

Invisible wounds of war

After his specialist training on FADAC Bob was sent into the belly of the beast.

“When I arrived in Vietnam I was assigned to a unit to train as support for the Riverine Forces using, a howitzer attached to a floating platform.”

The Riverine Forces were a joint Army-Navy amphibious assault force. While the Army contributed artillery expertise, the Navy supplied support and assault vessels.

Stories of the brutality and gruesomeness of the Vietnam war are legion. Bob recalls a particularly horrific experience that haunts him to this day.

“During guard duty one of our soldiers hadn’t returned by curfew, so we had to wait until daylight to search for him,” he shares.

“The next morning I was the one to find his militated body. This scene has never left my memory and led to me developing PTSD.”Rescue hound helps Vietnam veteran battle invisible wounds of war

In 1980 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, was first recognized as a mental health condition.

However, the psychological trauma we now call PTSD is likely as old as war itself.

Many veterans endured insult to injury when they had to battle the government to get recognition and help for their service-connected trauma. For some this fight lasted years, even decades.

In 1967 Bob completed his tour of duty. He returned from Vietnam and separated from service with an honorable discharge. For his entire adult life he suffered with the invisible wounds of war.

Dog is the best medicine

In time Bob sought counseling to help him cope with his wartime demons. The Vietnam veteran credits his therapist with giving him a lifesaving idea.

“I never had a dog in my life and my therapist suggested getting a dog would help in comforting me,” he shares, “which it has.”

It was early 2017 when Bob saw a Facebook post about how Pets for Patriots helps veterans adopt companion dogs and cats. That was all he needed to start searching for his very first dog.

“…gives me a feeling of purpose”

Gilda was a large hound mix in the care of a Michigan animal shelter. Little is known about her prior life or how she became homeless. Bob was smitten. He became a first time dog adopter and changed Gilda’s name to Biscuit.Rescue hound helps Vietnam veteran battle invisible wounds of war

The Vietnam veteran soon learned that hounds are as willful as they are loving. And that they can be lazy at times as well.

“She shows unlimited love for me and my family,” Bob says. “She can be stubborn at times and loves to nap, which all hounds enjoy.”

Companion pets are like children; they are helpless without their human guardians. They rely on us for food, shelter, and caring for their health. But most of all they depend on us for love. It is this profound need that gives many people a sense of renewal when they adopt.

Bob would be no different.

“It gives me a feeling of purpose taking care of her,” he shares.

And then there were three

As if this writing Biscuit is more than eight years old. She now shares her home and her humans with canine siblings.Rescue hound helps Vietnam veteran battle invisible wounds of war

“My love for her has encouraged me to adopt two more hounds,” Bob explains.

“I now have two Beagles along with Biscuit, who is a Blue Tick Coonhound.”

Recently we learned that Biscuit was limping and in pain. At the same time some human members of Bob’s family were going through health challenges of their own.

When it rains, it pours.

So Pets for Patriots stepped in to relieve some of Bob’s burden. Our hero fund is paying for treatments that are reducing Biscuit’s pain, which improves her mobility.

And our hardship fund stepped in to give Bob temporary relief buying pet food and other essentials.

These support programs are possible thanks to the generosity of our donors. People who want to show gratitude to veterans and improve the plight of rescued pets.

Most of all, these initiatives keep people and pets together, saving lives at both ends of the leash.

“Biscuit has given me some peace of mind,” Bob shares, “and her presence has helped me deal with the demons I have carried with me since my terrible experience.”

5 Comments

  1. Diane Driscoll

    Happy Birthday to my husband , it’s been many years since he was in the service but he does not forget the battle they fought and I’m so happy he’s made it home to be with his family… Love you Bob and Thank you

    Reply
  2. Kimberly Baynard

    Robert is my dad,he’s the most honorable man I know he loves his country and most of all his family,his dogs are very special to him,he does everything for his family he tirelessly works to make everyone happy,and I so very proud of him and proud to call him my dad,thank you for telling his story

    Reply
    • Diane Driscoll

      Beautifully written about your Dad Kimberly, very strong man and did his job by serving his country and doing all he can for his family and his dogs1

      Reply
  3. MJ

    God bless you for serving, especially during the Vietnam offensive when you were only following orders and not giving them. Thank you for rescueing Biscuit, and I hope that the two of you give each other much love in the years to come.

    Reply
  4. Carolyn J. Miller

    Your service during and in the Viet Nam era can never be appreciated enough. Our service men and women came home to jeers, heckles, and even hate. Such a horrible time in our country’s history yet people like you stood up to the plate! Thank you for serving and bringing these beautiful, broken hounds into your home, heart, and life.

    Reply

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