Teaching Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to train service dogs for fellow Veterans with physical disabilities and combat-related injuries.
The shrapnel injured Willis so badly they left him with the corpses on the battlefield. He lay amongst the dead for almost 24 hours. He survived, but physically, he was hobbled for the rest of his life. Worse yet, those corpses followed him around for over 30 years, haunting his dreams, altering his demeanor, limiting his ability to cope, and impeding him from living the American Dream that he had fought so hard for.When cancer from Agent Orange exposure seeped into his body, the doctors knew they could fix the malady. What they didn't know is if they could heal his mind, ravaged for 30 years by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, an affliction that is all too often lethal for many of our nation's Veterans. Prescription drugs didn't work. Neither did therapy. So the doctors brought him to Paws for Purple Hearts.PPH had Willis train service dogs for other Veterans suffering from physical injuries. We've had hundreds of Veterans from many of our nation's conflicts just like him do the same. In our program, the dog eliminates the Veteran's desire for isolation, restores their sense of belonging, and most importantly, gives them a sense of purpose again as they train the dog for one of their former brothers-in-arms. Not only did PPH have Willis train service dogs, we eventually provided him with a service dog of his own named Hannah. As Willis told us, Hannah "helps him get around, but more than anything else, makes him feel whole again." Willis felt at ease, peaceful, and happy for the first time since he took off the uniform that he wore with such pride and distinction. Paws for Purple Hearts can't wait to do again for the next Veteran, and every Veteran that follows.