ECAD’s Project Heal pairs United States Armed Forces veterans with specially-trained service dogs, who help these retired soldiers in their civilian lives. Each veteran and their service dog participate in 13 days of training free of charge at ECAD’s facility in Dobbs Ferry, New York, during which the pair will bond with each other. These service dogs are capable of several impressive feats, such as opening and closing doors, pulling wheelchairs, and even reminding their owners to take their medications.
Here are the stories of four soldiers and their service dogs:
Ace and Aries
Josue “Ace” Acevedo is a retired U.S. infantry soldier who suffered a severe spinal cord injury and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) during his service, leaving him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It was at ECAD that Ace met Aries, his service dog.
“Aries gives me purpose again,” Ace said with a smile on his face.
Aries helps Ace with everything from reminding him to take his medications to picking up dropped objects so Ace will not further injure his back. This pair is currently serving as goodwill ambassadors for ECAD and Project HEAL, as well as being advocates for other veterans who are in need of help.
Tony and Stutz
Retired Col. Tony A. Bryant devoted 27 years to his country, but his service left him diagnosed with TBI and PTSD.
Tony’s wife, Michelle, found out about ECAD and that’s where Tony met his service dog, Stutz. Stutz is now part of the Bryant family and has had such an impact on Tony’s life that the retired soldier would like to work on establishing an ECAD operation in his part of the country so more soldiers are able to experience “the love I felt up there.”
Leslie and Lizzie
Retired Staff Sergeant Leslie Wohlfeld served in the military for 26 years, but now suffers from PTSD, as well as the effects of injuries to her lower extremities.
ECAD has significantly helped improve Leslie’s well-being. The Project Heal Team Training process reminded Leslie of her Army boot camp experience and helped her create a great bond with her service dog, Lizzie. Lizzie has brought Leslie “smiles, happiness and the ability to love again!”
Phil and Reese
Phil Bauer returned home from the military after losing one of his legs and has struggled with PTSD, depression, anger, and pain that made it difficult for him to get through the day.
In 2009 Phil met his service dog, Reese, through ECAD. Reese has enabled Phil to maintain his independence by helping him to get ready for work and by retrieving items. Reese even pulls Phil’s wheelchair and interrupts Phil’s flashbacks or nightmares by nuzzling the veteran until he is calm. Both Reese and ECAD have played a huge role in changing Phil’s life.
Learn more about ECAD and Project Heal.
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