The loneliness of serving 3,000 miles away from her closest family members became more bearable when Alexis adopted a shelter cat who treats her like a rock star.
From sea to shining sea
Alexis is no stranger to the water. The active duty sailor was born and raised in the oceanside city of Daytona Beach, Florida. She enlisted in the Navy for two compelling reasons.
“I joined the Navy when I was 18 because I felt a calling to serve,” she says. “I also didn’t know exactly what I’d like to do when I grew up.”
The young recruit returned to her home state after graduating from boot camp and completed eight months of specialized training in Pensacola. Her first assignment took her across the country to the West coast. She is currently stationed on the USS Nimitz in Bremerton, Washington where she works as a cryptologic technician.
Alexis is part of the team responsible for providing technical and tactical guidance in support of surface, subsurface, air, and special warfare operations. She serves aboard one of the largest warships in the world and the oldest American aircraft carrier in active service.
The young veteran appreciates how the Navy has enabled her to expand her horizons.
“Though I have only been in for four years, I have learned an immense amount and gained a lot of life experiences that I’m thankful for,” she says.
Alexis’ most memorable experience took place when she was temporarily assigned to the USS Pinckney while deployed with the Nimitz. The guided-missile destroyer was participating in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Multilateral Naval Exercise (ASEAN) in Pattaya Bay, Thailand.
The exercise is designed to further relations, cooperation, and interoperability between international navies. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN, 40 ships from member countries gathered for various receptions. Pinckney sailors participated in the opening ceremony and international parade at Pattaya Beach.
“When those sailors saw us in uniform, they were so excited to see the U.S. Navy that they asked us to take pictures with them,” she recalls. “It was like being famous.”
Feeling like a celebrity abroad was a momentary thrill, but the encounter meant so much more to Alexis. It reinforced the seriousness of her responsibility as a member of the United States military.
“It was a really cool experience to see us connecting with different countries and to feel the respect they give us,” she says with pride. “It shows that you truly are representing America when you’re in a different country.”
Ship comes in for shelter cat
A few weeks after her trip to Thailand Alexis returned to shore duty in the Pacific Northwest. She was lonely and dealing with stress associated with being at sea for six months, even though she was happy to be back from deployment.
The young sailor decided that a companion pet was just what she needed.
On the advice of a friend as well as someone from her command, Alexis researched Pets for Patriots. She was moved by our mission to help the most overlooked shelter animals find loving homes while providing a range of support that makes pet adoption more affordable for military veterans.
“It’s great that they help fellow service members help shelter animals,” she says. “It’s a win-win for both parties, and that’s truly inspirational.”
Alexis was excited to learn that we partner with a shelter close to her home. The Kitsap Humane Society in Silverdale, Washington provides a 10 percent discount to veterans in our program who adopt eligible dogs and cats. In December 2017, she visited the humane society in search of a furry first mate.
At the time Simon was a playful three year-old gray cat who entered the shelter just after Christmas. Little is known about his life prior to arriving at the shelter, but that did not dampen his affectionate nature.
Fortunately, the “sweet little cuddle-bug” did not have to wait long for his ship to come in.
“The day I adopted him was the first day he was able to be adopted, so I was super lucky to be able to pick him,” Alexis recalls.
On New Years Eve day, Simon and Alexis became family.
Simon has since been named Eddy, a fitting moniker for a cat adopted by a Navy veteran.
The stunning gray shelter cat made himself at home immediately after being let out of his carrier and has adjusted to his new surroundings.
For her part, Alexis loves how Eddy’s balanced personality suits her lifestyle. He can be playful and frisky or relaxed and subdued, depending on the situation. He enjoys wrestling as much as he adores cozying up to his rescuer.
“He’s a very active cat, which has been great,” Alexis shares, “but he also loves to settle down and cuddle on the couch when we watch TV.”
The shelter cat gives his veteran exactly what she needs emotionally, even when they are not together. Alexis notices that both her stress level and loneliness are more manageable. It is a comfort just knowing that her number one fan is at home – always sitting in the same spot – eager to hail her arrival.
“He brings me love and comfort every day. I know that when I come home from work I always have somebody waiting to greet me home.”
Alexis is grateful for the positive impact that Eddy the former shelter cat has had on her life, no less in such a short time. She would like to see other veterans use our companion pet adoption program as well. And for our part, we hope that her story inspires more veterans in the Pacific Northwest to learn about how we can help them, too.
“Pets for Patriots is a fantastic program that truly cares about their members,” Alexis says. “Not only do they help service members adopt an animal, they’re helping animals at the shelter find loving homes. It’s a great concept at work.”