Forward by Ron Meuser, Jr.
Jen Yackley and I originally met with Dana (who wrote the story below), her husband Ed and his service dog Rex to hear their story and learn how I can help. They founded an organization called Soldier’s 6 whose mission is to provide honorable discharged veterans, police officers, and firefighters with specially trained K-9 dogs. The support they provide these brave individuals is nothing short of amazing and, unfortunately, very much needed. We hear from our police officer and firefighter clients with PTSD that the suffering doesn’t end when the job is over and many don’t want the job to end. Dana and Ed’s story is very real, heartbreaking, and a reminder that we must be continuously supportive in any way we can. Please join Meuser, Yackley & Rowland, P.A. in supporting this worthy organization by going to https://www.soldiers6.com/how-can-i-help
I had this sentimental pillow made out of one of Ed’s old uniforms. It came at the right time. Life is unpredictable. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is unpredictable. Ed knows me. He knows me too well. He knows my hair will frizz in the rain. He knows what I would eat at any given restaurant and he knows my words before I speak. And I know him… most days.
When his PTSD is in high gear, he becomes unpredictable. Smells can trigger him. Nightmares take him to places I would never want to be. I forget that he is easily startled, or that his emotions either run high, or he is an emotionless being with a wall built so high, you need to be pretty clever to scale it. But I know my husband. And I know he doesn’t want this.
Life out of uniform and no longer a badge number has been a rather large transition for him. He loves being retired and off the streets, but he doesn’t love the load that came with it. Now it is reality. With a few years of sobriety under his belt, now it’s time to face his demons head on. That’s the tough part. He fought for our country and protected our streets, and he did an amazing job while doing it. Now it’s my turn. I fight for him and with him.
The part of taking a shattered shell of a man and putting him back together one piece at a time has begun. One doctor appointment at a time. Day by day, sometimes hour to hour. I am honored to be let into this part of his life, as he doesn’t easily allow others in. I look at this pillow, and it’s a part of who he is along with his military service. I look at it and remember the calls he would tell me about or bring me on when I rode with him. It’s all a part of his life, our life. A life that has provided for us, yet mentally and physically taken so much. Today at the VA, looking around, there are so many stories. So many people that have fought for us and now are fighting to get better. They have so many stories to tell. Stories of survival and pain. Ed’s story is unique as well. I know his story is far from over.
We will overcome this next hurdle and get him through to better days. Mental pain is a shitty thing. So many non-believers. I can tell you to never doubt one who has looked death in the eyes and continued to fight back every day. We all are different and cope in different ways. It takes some longer than others to ask for help, but when that time comes, I certainly hope you can say that you are there for them. Do more than just say it. Show up. Every day and every time. Respect and honor those who have given us so much.