Effectiveness of service dogs on the quality of life of veterans with PTSD.
A trip down memory lane on Coach Olson’s 50 years of coaching college basketball.
Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs, Inc. (TLCAD) held its second annual College Basketball Tip-Off Luncheon in honor of University of Arizona Hall-of-Fame Coach Lute Olson at the Officers’ Club at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on November 3rd. Basketball fans and military supporters came together to attend this exciting event. Other special guests in attendance were University of San Diego Coach Lamont Smith, who gave a warm welcome to Coach Olson. Coach Smith spoke of his upcoming basketball season. The Master of Ceremonies was former University of Arizona Wildcat player Harvey Mason, who helped keep not only the crowd but “Lute” in line.
The luncheon was a trip down memory lane on Coach Olson’s 50 years of coaching college basketball. Long time friends, John Kasser & Dr. Cedric Dempsey, shared their favorite memories of working with Lute. Next, Harvey Mason led a Q & A with Coach Olson on his most memorable moments in coaching the Wildcats. Retired Navy Captain, Charles Schroeder presented Coach Olson with a personalized Marine Corps flight jacket as a gift from the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs in appreciation for Coach Olson’s support of TLCAD’s programs. He was also presented with a proclamation that was presented by a representative of Mark Kersey, who is Councilman of the Fifth District in San Diego. The proclamation praised Coach Lute Olson for his many years as a college basketball coach, his contributions to the game and named November 3, 2015 as Lute Olson Day in San Diego.
Then the President of TLCAD, Karen Shultz presented TLCAD’s At-Ease program for Wounded Warriors and Leash-On-Life program for individuals with autism. Luncheon guests were captivated by a heart felt story from Nicki Smith, the mother of Sadie a Leash-On-Life recipient. She spoke of Sadie, and her journey toward greater independence. Sadie, diagnosed with autism and mitochondrial disorder, has progressed from being wheelchair bound to walking independently, all thanks to her Service Dog Solar who is always at her side.
The event was a tremendous success and brought in over $35,000 for TLCAD’s programs. The monies raised will help produce more custom trained service dogs, who will forever transform the lives of our veterans and those affected by autism in San Diego County.
Ernie McCray – University of Arizona Alumni wrote a piece on TLCAD and our event in the San Diego Free Press.
3rd annual Stand Up Ride and BBQ
TLCAD would like to thank the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association, CA 33-1 for being part of their 3rd annual Stand Up Ride and BBQ event held on March 28th! Staff, Volunteers and our At Ease client Marlene Krpata and Service Dog Dante, enjoyed festivities, great food, and live music by the Jim Allen band.
Facility Dogs can perform custom cues and behaviors that allow for their professional handlers to effectively utilize them during animal assisted therapy.
Veterans’ advocates believe that between 10 and 20 percent of veterans returning home from deployment display some level of Traumatic Brain Injury. The V.A. also estimates that nearly 20% of deployed service members suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The visible and invisible wounds of war are tremendous and TLCAD recognizes the overwhelming need to assist our service members and veterans, both on an individual and community basis.
Therefore, in addition to placing custom-trained Service Dogs with Wounded Warriors, we also place Facility Dogs. These highly specialized dogs are paired with professionals that provide medical treatment or therapy for service members and veterans, and also touch the lives of Wounded Warriors in outpatient clinics and military hospitals by assisting them to reach their therapeutic and rehabilitation goals. TLCAD is thorough in the placement process, ensuring that Facility Dogs can perform custom cues and behaviors that allow for their professional handlers to effectively utilize them during animal assisted therapy.
Facility Dog Murphy was placed with physical therapist Kim Gottshall in the C5 Physical Therapy Vestibular Unit at Naval Medical Center San Diego. Murphy works with Kim to assist patients with traumatic brain injuries and
mobility impairments in meeting their rehabilitation goals as well as helps to increase their motivation and ease their anxiety. Murphy works with up to 20 patients a week and the positive impact he has on the lives of service members is profound.
“Murphy is a constant source of help and enjoyment in my therapy sessions. He assists me with standing when I am unsteady and lays with me during mat exercises. Hi is very reliable, calm, and helpful in each of my appointments. Difficult exercises become a breeze with Murphy to take my mind off the pain and a great motivator to complete them so I can go back to petting him! I always look forward to attending therapy to work with Murphy and believe himto be a great asset to the Vestibular Physical Therapy program.” -NMCSD patient
By performing cues that help mitigate his symptoms of PTSD, Jag assists Jesse to live a more independent life, benefiting not only Jesse, but also his entire family.
“Give thanks for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be
a motto that resonates strongly with retired USMC Sergeant Jesse James. Jesse received his At Ease Service Dog, Jag, in 2012, around the time he was medically disciharged from the Marine Corps. Jesse suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Jesse’s symptoms of PTSD included hyper vigilance in crowded places, which inhibited him from going into public as well as sleep problems, which affected his overall well being. By performing cues that help mitigate his symptoms of PTSD, Jag assists Jesse to live a more independent life, benefiting not only Jesse, but also his entire family. When asked about the role Jag plays in his life today, Jesse states
“Jag is always by my side and looking out for me. We’ve grown so close together and the way se moves alerts me if someone is near the house or if someone is coming up. I do’t think I could sleep at all without knowing she is right there and able to alert me if something happens. She always looks out for me and knows when I need her.”
Jag continues to play an important role in Jesse’s healing journey, helping him to create the future he is fighting for.
TLCAD At Ease Service Dog recipient Retired Major NC USAF Linda Stanley has turned her experience with PTSD into her mission to help her fellow service members. Linda served over 20 years in the military – – six years in the Army and 14 years in the Air Force as a nurse. Linda deployed in 2006 with 32nd Medical Group to Balad, Iraq, where she was a trauma nurse and provided medical care to many severely injured service members. Linda explains that the medical part of her deployment was the highlight of her career. It was the human side of war, the pain, the grief, and the loss she saw in the faces of troops that bothered her most. Her symptoms of PTSD started with trouble sleeping and nightmares, and escalated to anxiety and hypervigilance that affected all aspects of her life. She felt alone and disconnected from the world.
It took time but Linda eventually sought help. After several tries to find the right therapist, Linda found someone who had also been deployed and that she could relate to, as she had also “been there”. Even after going through intense therapy, Linda still did not feel at ease in public.
“I felt alone, sad, and often felt unsafe.” states Linda, “I was at a combat women’s retreat and saw a fellow veteran with a dog. That dog made me feel good and I wondered if a service dog could help me.”
Linda pursued TLCAD’s At Ease Service Dog Program, and received her Service Dog, Willow, in 2011. Willow was custom-trained and placed with Linda to perform specific behaviors that help to mitigate her symptoms of PTSD.
“Willow helps me with my sleep by being right by me. She helps with my hypervigilance, my jumpiness. She often alerts me to other people before I know it. She smells when people are coming to my house. She comes close when I am triggered. She helped me get out and socialize. People often approach and ask about her.”
Since 2011, Willow has been by Linda’s side, accompanying her to school as she completed her Master’s Degree in Nursing as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.
Linda now works with veterans as a psychiatric mental health nurse and is an active member of the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). She and Willow have attended IAVA’s Storm the Hill campaign in Washington D.C. in an effort to increase legislation to support veterans and address the epidemic of veterans committing suicide. As a champion for veterans with PTSD, Linda notes that challenges facing our veterans include finding a job, getting into the appropriate type of therapy, and support from friends and family.
“The re-integration time is especially difficult. Many are young and find it challenging to fit in again in society after they have seen so much in combat.”
She stresses that access to trauma informed trained staff and normalizing many of the symptoms of PTSD to help decrease the stigma are key to improving the treatment of our veterans. By sharing her own story and journey with PTSD, she educates military nurses, residents, doctors, generals and members of Congress about the invisible wounds of war, providing them with information that helps to create more understanding, empathy and better treatment for veterans.
“I need people who are taking care of veterans with this condition to understand and have empathy for what’s going on in their heads. If they understand it better, they’ll take better care of them.”
First annual College Basketball Tip-Off Luncheon, featuring guest speaker Bob Knight
TLCAD board member, Colonel Marianne Waldrop, USMC Retired and Captain Chuck Schroeder, USN Retired,
presented Coach Bob Knight with an honorary flag flown in Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs, Inc. (TLCAD) held its first annual College Basketball Tip-Off Luncheon, featuring guest speaker Bob Knight, at the Officers’ Club at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on October 28th. 300 basketball fans and military supporters came together to attend this exciting event. Coaches Steve Fisher of San Diego State and Bill Grier of the University of San Diego were honored speakers who spoke to the audience about their teams upcoming basketball seasons.
Before the event, Bob Knight personally spoke with 40 Marines in a lively and candid question and answer session, where he signed basketballs and took photos with the troops. After lunch, Coach Knight captivated guests with his theory of basketball, relating lessons of the game to lessons in life. He graciously accepted the flag flown over the Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan on September 5th, 2014 in appreciation by ARCENT Afghanistan Transition Team (A2T2), stating it was one of the most memorable gifts he had ever received. TLCAD President, Karen Shultz, then took the stage and explained TLCAD’s At Ease program and the impact custom-trained Service Dogs have on the lives of Wounded Warriors. She also announced TLCAD’s brand new partnership with the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, where inmates will be given the opportunity to better themselves and the community by learning to train Service Dogs for individuals with autism and Wounded Warriors.
Captain, U.S.Army (Ret) and At Ease Service Dog Gracie
The audience was then mesmerized by Captain, U.S.Army (Retired), Marlene Krpata’s unforgettable speech, telling her story of service, her visible and invisible wounds of war (being injured during her service in Iraq) and how her TLCAD Service Dog, Gracie, has transformed and continues to positively impact her life on her long journey toward healing.
The fundraiser was a tremendous success and brought in over $40,000 for TLCAD’s programs that will produce more custom trained service dogs for individuals with autism and Wounded Warriors.