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Articles in Category: Veterans with PTSD

Thank You 2014

on Wednesday, 31 December 2014. Posted in Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd Puppies, Malsatians, Veterans with PTSD, German Shepherds, Protection Dogs, Puppies, Service Dogs, Service Protection Dog training

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We had such a wonderful year with all of you we wanted to take a minute to share some of the highlights of 2014!

 

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We started off with this delicious Red Sable Puppy.  Brad Hoppe is overseeing the puppy love!

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 Thanks to your generosity we placed Service Protection Dog "Hero"

with Veteran Josh S. 

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Singer/Songwriter Cory Singer performed on our behalf at an event in New Jersey to help raise funds for veterans.

 

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We had some amazing puppies come through GatorlandK9 this year

on their way to new homes!

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 Some of our German Shepherd Service Dogs became world travelers.  We have enjoyed the travels of Jessi the Service Dog this past year!  Here she is with her handler in Europe!

Sarah Buxton and Naya

 

Country Music Star Sarah Buxton honored GatorlandK9 

by awarding our "Naya" the Service Dog of The Year Award

presented by Heart Songs for Veterans in Nashville, TN

Jill Pavel, Founder of Heart Songs for Veterans

Presented our Service Dog Program with a $ 2000.00 donation from the event.

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 Endy Found a Forever Home with our new friend Jane Saul!

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 We continue to celebrate Gatorland Malinois.  This is one of our alumni Mela.

We look forward to celebrating 2015 with all of you!!  Meet Taimon he will be arriving at GatorlandK9 International soon!

Contact Ted Hoppe (386) 337-0730 or email Ted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Happy New Year!

Author: Jill Pavel 

GatorlandK9 Service Dog Honored in Nashville

on Tuesday, 15 July 2014. Posted in Veterans with PTSD, German Shepherds, Service Dogs, Service Protection Dog training

Veteran Mark Berry traveled to Nashville from his hometown of Caanan, New Hampshire with his German Shepherd Service Dog, NAYA.  During a music benefit at The Stage on Broadway presented by Heart Songs for Veterans, Marks' GatorlandK9 Service Dog Naya was awarded "Service Dog of the Year" by Country Star Sarah Buxton.

Country Singer Ashley Winters shared her song written for Mary and Naya "By Her Side".  

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Country Singer Ashley Winters, Serenading Veteran Mark Berry and his GatorlandK9 International Service Dog NAYA with her original song penned in their honor "By Her Side".

Sarah Buxton and Naya

Country Star Sarah Buxton awarding GatorlandK9 International Alumni  Naya

"Service Dog of The Year" Award

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Heart Songs for Veterans of the Year SGT Eric Hunter, Artist Sam French.Todd Farmer

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L to R: Heart Songs for Veterans Andy Roadarmel, Todd Farmer (Drummer) Sam French & Brian Jones (Justine Blazer Band)

The Omni Nashville provided accomodations for Mark, Naya and Service Protection Dogs for World Peace.

To Cap the evening off a surprise donation was made to Service Protection Dogs for World Peace on behalf of Jill Pavel, Founder of Heart Songs for Veterans in the amount of $2000.00. Pavel presented the check to D. Hoppe.

 Author: Jill Pavel

Another Veterans has a Service Dog!

on Sunday, 19 January 2014. Posted in Veterans with PTSD

The Adventures of Josh and Hero!

Another day, Another week at GatorlandK9.   

After months of helping Veteran Josh Schutt raise funding to train and acquire his service do we are pleased to share that he has brought home "HERO" after being certified this past Friday January 17th.  

Veterans who live with PTSD need our help to continue to raise awareness of how a Service Dog can change their life for the better.  With Hero by his side we hope Josh Schutt's quality of life will improve each day as it has before for our other Veterans and their service dogs.

We are going to let these pictures tell the story of Josh and Hero's new life together.

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Josh contacted GatorlandK9 and asked for their help. He and his wife Kirstie Jo were newly married and ready to start their new life together.  Josh was having a difficult time with his PTSD and after researching Service Dogs he contacted our organization.

Josh is a US Army Veteran living with PTSD & he wanted to acquire one of our German Shepherd service dogs.  Josh was connected with our Veteran Program Director Jill Pavel, who helped Josh raise funding through press, media, events and online fundraising platforms. Josh also hit the street running advocating for himself and asking his community and home town to help him raise funding. 

In five months we had raised $ 20,000.00 for this mission to move into it's next phase which was to bring Josh down to GatorlandK9 in Florida, meet his new service dog HERO and complete handler training so he and Hero could become certified.  

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We had parades, bike runs, auctions and more!

Without the help of many this would not be possible.  GatorlandK9 is working to put service dogs into the hands of as many Veterans as possible, we cannot do it alone!  Thank you to everyone who has supported our efforts.

Meet Hero who was our October 2013 Dog of the Month.

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 Josh and Hero Bonding for the first time

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Josh and Hero

Off to work we go!! 

 Author: Jill Pavel

A Veteran Advocates for Himself and His Service Dog!

on Monday, 23 September 2013. Posted in Veterans with PTSD

 
 
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NAYA - Service Protection Dog
Mark Berry is a 59 year old Veteran, born in Hyannis, Massachusetts. In 1973 Mark enlisted in the United States Navy and spent the next 4 years serving during the Vietnam War Era. He was with the 6th Fleet after boot camp and spent time on a carrier in the Mediterranean.  Mark was an airman on the flight deck. One of his job tasks was during the recovery of TWA flight 841 that was attacked by terrorists in 1974 over Athens, Greece in Route to JFK, NYC.  This was the first known instance of a young Arab boarding an American plane in a suicide mission (resource, Wikpedia). Mark was part of the recovery team that brought home 88 bodies including 79 passengers and 9 crew members. To this day, Mark has a difficult time discussing that event in his life.  
Mark is 100% disabled. He has been living with mental disorders and PTSD since his service to our country. He was diagnosed with PTSD two years ago during a VA hospital stay. 
When I asked Mark how he came to GatorlandK9 he said," I have gone through the system and met other Veterans  that had service dogs.  I saw how they were working for them and I wanted one."  All Veterans are looking for relief and solutions to help them cope with their PTSD and other Brain related disorders. According to Mark he was told that there is at least a 4 year waiting list. Mark found GatorlandK9  on the internet and was impressed by Owner Ted Hoppe's Military Service in the Air Force. He was drawn to the dogs we presented and reached out to Ted. 
Mark  has been living with his service dog Naya for two years.  Mark has a deep respect for Naya. He respects her as an employee would respect their boss. Talking with Mark was refreshing, he has a very professional relationship with his dog.  He views her as she should be, a "working dog".  I asked Mark how he navigates the relationship when they are not at work.  He said, "she is trained to know that once her vest goes on, she is on duty. When the vest comes off, she is off duty but always on, stand by".  Only when the vest comes off does he indulge Naya in play with her Kong Toy.  Naya was born in March 2011.  Scan0050
 Mark Berry & Naya
Six months ago, Mark started to fight in a new war.  A war for his rights to bring his service dog to the White River Junction VA Hospital, VT and  for Naya's right to perform her job functions at all times.  Without a legal explanation, Mark was told by a social worker  of the facility that he could no longer bring Naya into the facility.    Mark took it upon himself to fight for his rights and the rights of other Veterans.  Naya had never exhibited any behavioral issues or negative conduct both physically and from an audio perspective.  She was professional at all times.  Becoming accustomed to the benefits of having Naya by his side at all times created anxiety, fear and anger inside of Mark.    Mark could not understand, Naya had been to the hospital with him many times, she has always been well received by the housekeeping, nurse, administration, doctors & therapists. Mark said, "When the Social Worker told me that this is a new policy it was presented in a way that I perceived it as a threat, t was time for me to stand up and fight for my rights."
Mark immediately turned to GatorlandK9 and we immediately jumped into action by reaching out to a Corp. of Veterans including Sean Hill.  There were endless phone calls on Mark's behalf to the VA Hospital, Local Politicians including Congressman Peter Welch who went in on foot to meet with the Administration of the VA Hospital on Mark and Naya's behalf.  Unfortunately none of their efforts were met with a positive response.   
When Mark exhausted all of his internal resources at the hospital  he reached out to Chief of Police, John Richardson.  Police Chief Richardson, took it upon himself to contact the hospital directly and was responsible for facilitating the reinstatement of Naya's ability to enter the hospital.  Naya already had the appropriate paperwork and attire to represent her official role as Mark's working dog.  It is sad that it took a First Responder to get the job done.  Since when did our Veterans stop having a legitimate voice?  To be fair, Mark has stated clearly that he thinks the White River Junction VA Medical Center is one of the best facilities he has dealt with in his years post service.  In his opinion this was not a policy issue but a human issue.  Naya and Mark are back in business and have championed a positive outcome in this situation.
The point of sharing this with you is that Mark wanted other Veterans to know that we cannot always rely on others to advocate for our needs or rights.  Sometimes we have to take a stand and do it for ourselves.  In this case Police Chief Richardson helped Mark get this situation turned around, but Mark had to go out and advocate to him for his help.  It was empowering for Mark and as the author of this blog,  I hope this helps other Veterans not find defeat in the word NO.  NO can create empowerment.
Jill asked Mark to share some of his wisdom with other Veterans pertaining to PTSD and Service Dogs, specifically with his life experience with Naya.   Here is what he said:
1. "Talking to Therapists and Psychiatrists on a regular basis is a part of my treatment.  I do not wait until I am close to a breakdown to get help.   Also, when I visit the VA hospital they take notes and put them into the computer.  During my fight to get Naya and my rights reinstated they always made notes in the computer.  Ultimately that helped me when presenting my case to the Police Chief to help me.  Police Chief Richardson acted as my liaison and cited the laws to the same people who were telling me no."
Other first responders will be more sensitive to the issues of a Veteran.  They have respect for our service. 
2.  Be wary of where you purchase a service dog.  Naya is an import dog hand selected for me based on various emotional and physical criteria.  GatorlandK9 & serviceprotectiondogs.org custom selects all of the dogs for all of their clients. Domestic Shepherds tend to have a higher incidence of thrown hip dysplasia and mental instability. The Breeds that Gatorland & serviceprotectiondogs.org  provide are able to sort out different environments naturally.  
Naya stays neutral in busy environment, where other service dogs  jump up off place command or bark.  Naya always remains in control.  
3.  Naya helps Mark wake up from  nightmares and night terrors.  She calms him down.
4.  Mark shares, "When I am in general public places ie; Walmart or food stores,  Naya has the ability to pick up on what is going on around me before I do.  She has an incredible sense of her surroundings at all times.  She alerts me by standing in front of me or she puts her left paw on my leg which is an indicator for me to find a quiet place.  If anyone comes close to me, she alerts me by standing so close to me she is almost on top of my leg."
Mark stated boldly, "Meet my PTSD!!  I have anxiety, paranoia, agitation to the extent that I can be viewed as verbally offensive, withdraw socially.  All of these symptoms have been helped and alleviated to a great extent because of Naya and our working relationship. I am consistently in awe of how she has the ability to read me, my symptoms before I recognize them in myself.  I have had to learn how to read her and her responses as well. I am mutually protective of her.  I respect the training guidelines of not allowing the public to touch or interfere in her work.  Once in awhile she is stumped by a situation.  She cocks her head and looks to me and I guide her as to how to handle the new situation. We are a team.  
Mark recently shared this article with me http://www.vnews.com/news/healthcare/8365794-95/va-gets-45-million-for-ptsd.   There is help coming for PTSD research, more so than in the past.  Article's such as this that show the grants and funding working for our Veterans is promising.  We have a long way to go. 
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 Mark Berry & Naya 
Mark has had an inspiring journey for himself with his service dog Naya and on behalf of other Veterans. We look forward to sharing more with you as Mark continues to navigate through his life with Naya by his side.  
For More Information on our Veterans with PTSD Programming visit Contact Jill Pavel (732) 423-2070
For More Information on our Custom Selected Import Dogs and Training Programs please visit www.gatorlandk9international.com  Contact Ted Hoppe (386) 337-0730
Author: Jill Pavel

A New Service Dog for Veteran James! Meet Kira!

on Tuesday, 15 October 2013. Posted in Veterans with PTSD, German Shepherds, Protection Dogs

German Shepherd Service Dog Placed With A Veteran With PTSD

We are so pleased to share that GatorlandK9 International has placed a German Shepherd/Malinois service dog puppy with Veteran James Morton.

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Meet Kira!

James and his family are from Fayetteville, North Carolina. James is an 18 year Veteran in the US Army.  He was medically discharged in January 2012.

James suffers from PTSD and other neurological disorders as well as Joint Disabilities from being airborne.   We look forward to Kira growing and training to be a working Service Dog so that James can live an easier life with his PTSD.  His family came to visit us last week, to pick up Kira.  Here is a letter that James Wife Jennifer Shared with us upon arriving home.  Remember to Support our Veterans!  

Ted,

Thank you so much for helping my husband James and "Kira" find each other.  The day we spent with you is definitely a milestone for James recovery and management of PTSD.  The time you took for us meant so much.  The whole family enjoyed the demonstration we saw with Tebow too!

We arrived home safe and Kira is getting used to her forever home quickly.  The two of them are already bonding well.  We will continue to keep you updated on their progress.  Here are

Thanks Again! 

Jennifer Morton
james and family

Author: Jill Pavel

Veteran Josh Schutt's Story Living with PTSD

on Tuesday, 27 August 2013. Posted in Veterans with PTSD, German Shepherds, Service Dogs

In June 2013 We officially launched our Veterans with PTSD Programming 

Our Mission:  To provide funding to Veterans with PTSD or other neurological disorders and individuals who have a need for help from a service protection dog,  where they might otherwise not be able to acquire a service dog.

We are currently working with Veteran Josh Schutt, Philadelphia, PA who served for six years in the US Army including 2 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Josh lives with PTSD and TBI.  His daily life struggle is documented on his facebook  page Help Support A Veteran.  Josh came to GatorlandK9 four months ago.  We are actively working toward his goal of funding a service dog.  

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Josh has opened up his world to all of you.   This is his story.  

Josh Schutt's  Story

I served in the US Army from 1998 until October, 2004. I was medically discharged due to injuries I suffered in Iraq.

I was injured in Iraq on Aug 1, 2003, when my weapon, a .50 cal machine gun, misfired and exploded on me and I was left only holding what they call the butterfly handles. My body immediately went into shock, so I didn’t feel any pain but I did recognize the severity of my injuries. My bleeding was very significant so I wasn’t sure that I was going to make. It took three hours to get to the closest medical unit. When I got to the MASH unit, I explained to the doctor what happened and he was so shocked he lost all the color in his face. He said he couldn’t believe that I was alive, let alone awake. I took shrapnel to my leg and my stomach. He immediately had to operate on me to remove the metal throughout my body. I spent a week in Iraq until I became stable enough to be transported to Germany. Once I was there, many tests were run and they were able to partially close up some of my wounds. I spent another week there before I was sent to Walter Reid where they proceeded to run more tests, close up the rest of my wounds and made sure I was healing. Once they ruled out internal bleeding, I was released.

I was medically discharge from the military for my physically injuries. However, my emotional and psychological injuries were a lot harder to recover from.  For the next few years, I spent a lot of time looking at the bottom of a beer mug and trying to avoid everyone and anything.  I could not sleep unless I drank enough to pass out and when I did fall asleep, I would wake up screaming and sweaty from the nightmares.  I experienced a lot while in Iraq and I was having trouble learning to live a normal life again. I didn’t know what was going on or how to deal with it. I finally went to the VA where I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder usually caused by a life threatening event(s). It is diagnosed when someone experiences recurring flashbacks and high levels of anxiety that continue a month after the traumatic event.

My doctors suggested a multitude of medications but they weren’t enough.  I finally came across something called a PTSD service dog and after researching, I realized they had helped many Veterans like me deal with PTSD. I discovered that having a PTSD service dog would allow me to live a more normal life. For example, I am constantly looking around to make sure there aren’t any snipers or IUDs hidden in my surrounding but the sense of security the service dog will give me will allow me to relax.  It will also wake me up when I have night terrors, which are frequent. It will help me to go out and be social in big crowds, which I typically avoid. If it senses me getting stressed, a PTSD dog is trained to calm me back down avoiding a full blown panic attack.

The challenge with obtaining a specially trained service dog is that they cost more than I can afford due to the fact that the training is so extensive that is takes years to complete. There are many agencies out there that offer free dogs to Veterans but they have an extremely long waiting list and I have dealt with this for way too long. I am now asking for your assistance and anyone else’s who would be willing to donate funds to help me cover the cost of getting a PTSD service dog. The average cost of training and obtaining a PTSD service dog, including training is very expensive.  I am ready to live a normal life again but I need your help. Please help me raise this money by donating anything you can and by passing this along to everyone you know. It would be greatly appreciated. 

There are several ways you can support our efforts for Josh:

1.  Make a direct donation 

 If you would like to make a donation you can mail a check! 

Make Checks Payable to:

 Service Protection Dogs For World Peace

PO Box 296 Barberville, FL 32105 

Mark Memo:  Josh Schutt 

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 Author: Jill Pavel

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