In June 2012, when I enlisted in the U.S. Army as a medic, I had no idea what was in store for me over the next four years. Through training exercises, unit shuffling, deployments and working in the hospital, I began to realize that many of the people I was working with were silently suffering and battling inner demons that only they knew about. Some were depressed. Some felt hopeless. Many had insomnia and feared sleeping because of the nightmares. Others lived with crippling anxiety, coupled with loneliness and guilt.
As a medic, I became more than just a medic. I became their doctor. I became a counselor. I become a friend.
I knew that even after talking with my fellow soldiers that I had some inner daemons of my own. Then through a close friend of mine, Koda fell into my hands. There was something about her and the way that she knew whenever I was going to a dark place. I then began doing some research about how to harness what she had already possessed. After months of working with her I finally was able to have her certified as an official Service Dog. That dog alone has saved my life.
On October 12, 2016, I woke up expecting it to be just like any other day. But it wasn’t. Late that morning, I found out that someone who served in my unit had taken his life. At that moment, I decided to make it my mission in life to place animals with veterans who may also be suffering in silence.
According to the PTSD Foundation of America:
- over 1,100 troops have taken their lives since 2006
- 1 in 5 active duty members attempt suicide everyday
- 22 veterans commit suicide daily
With numbers this high, there has never been a more crucial time for this type of support. I know from firsthand experience how an animal can save somebody’s life. Saving one person’s life is all it takes to make an impact on the world.
The brotherhood that people in the military have doesn’t end when we no longer wear the uniform. I wouldn’t leave anyone behind then… and I still won’t now.
– LAWNE SNYDER, Founder