Vets celebrate their canine companions
WESTPORT — More powerful than the might of a military operation may be the strength of real canine care and devotion to a veteran.
The regional chapter of the Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs held its third annual fundraiser —Barks, Brews & BBQ 2019 — Sunday afternoon at VFW Post 399.
Along with more than 150 attendees taking part in a raffle, silent auction and early dinner, three veterans were in attendance with their respective service dogs, animals that have made a pivotal difference in both saving and improving their lives.
“She is a PTSD and cardiac alert dog,” retired U.S. Army Sgt. Justin Hall, of Hudson Falls, N.Y., said about his service dog Rosa.
Hall, who served nine years, suffers from episodes of post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as episodic loss of consciousness due to neuorcardiogenic syncope, which used to lead to him passing out four to five times a week.
Since Rosa, a slim, 2-year-old German shepherd, has been by his side, he has only fainted thrice since June.
“Basically she alerts me any time she thinks I’m going to pass out,” he said, helping him take measures to safety.
“They give you the confidence and you know they have your back,” Hall said of service dogs. “And they make sure you’re okay.”
“We know that there are way too many veterans who take their lives in our country,” said sVets tate Sen. Bob Duff, who was among the officials in attendance. “We really should be doing more and this is part of that solution.”
According to Dian Mecca, one of the volunteers with the Angels, 32 veterans attempt suicide each day nationwide, and 22 of them will succeed.
“We have placed over 300 dogs,” she said of the organization since its inception nine years ago, and there has not been one suicide among those veterans who have service dogs.
“As a combat vet,” said Bob Custer, Post 399 officer and Vietnam veteran, “I can say that I know what it means to have that comradeship take the place of that guy who was alongside you in that foxhole.”