September 2019: Freedom Service Dogs
Who is Freedom Service Dogs?
“Freedom Service Dogs of America is a nonprofit organization that unleashes the potential of dogs by transforming them into custom-trained, life-changing assistance dogs for people in need. Clients include children, veterans and active-duty military, and other adults. Their disabilities include autism, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and post-traumatic stress (PTS). Since being founded in 1987, Freedom Service Dogs has paired hundreds of client-dog teams at no cost to the client.
A Few Success Stories
Brooke & Houston
Brooke, a U.S. Army veteran with PTSD, has been plagued by anxiety, depression, flashbacks, and nightmares for decades. He recently graduated from Freedom Service Dogs with Houston, a loyal white Lab who has changed his life. Houston has been trained to create space around Brooke in crowds and nudge his hand to interrupt flashbacks or nightmares, helping him feel more comfortable in public places and calmer at his New Mexico home.
Tom & Norwin
Tom is a U.S. Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq. He returned from overseas with post-traumatic stress (PTS) that causes anxiety in public places and recurring nightmares that have resulted in more than a decade of sleep loss, among other symptoms. After years of self-destructive behavior, Tom applied for a service dog from FSD, and in 2018 he was matched with Norwin, a black Labrador retriever. Together, Tom and Norwin went through FSD's Operation Full Circle program, an innovative program designed specifically for veterans with PTS and traumatic brain injury. Today, Norwin creates space around Tom in public so that he can go more places with his children and helps Tom sleep better by nudging him awake from nightmares. Says Tom, “Norwin has given me hope, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds now that Norwin is by my side.”
Ryan & Slate
U.S. Navy veteran Ryan received a traumatic brain injury from a blast while serving in Iraq and has been diagnosed with PTS. He suffers from sleep disturbances, anxiety in large crowds or enclosed spaces, and memory problems. In 2019, Ryan and his service dog, Slate, graduated from FSD’s Operation Full Circle program for veterans with PTS and traumatic brain injury. Slate, a black Labrador retriever mix, helps Ryan stay calm in stressful situations, wakes him from nightmares, and enables him to enjoy outings with his wife and three children. Says Ryan, “Slate let me know that there's more to life--that I could go back out into public, that I didn't have to have nightmares every night, and that attending functions at my kids’ schools could be a possibility again.”