Published 11:01 pm Monday, July 30, 2012
Macy Williams paid a visit to the Washington Daily News last week. In the city for a few weeks before she moves overseas, the four-legged friend served as a reminder of how small actions can move mountains.
Macy is a German-shepherd mix that was found near an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. U.S. soldiers deployed there took her in and cared for her.
Then the world stepped in to help. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jessica Williams, a Washington native, and her family, with a Facebook page, raised $6,000 to bring Macy to Washington. Williams said donations came quickly and from all corners of the world.
Had the money not been there, Macy would have been released (nonservice dogs are not allowed on base) and her fate would not have been a good one.
Macy was never trained to be a service dog, but that’s exactly what she was in Afghanistan.
Williams, a mental-health technician, described the dog as a chameleon, changing her behavior to be whatever the armed-services member needed at the time. She was playful, loving and always a welcome distraction to the day’s conflicts.
Psychiatric service dogs serve many purposes stateside. Dogs can be trained to remind a veteran to take a dose of medicine, wake a veteran and turn on a light during a nightmare, regulate emotions and facilitate interactions to keep the veteran from withdrawing from social situations.
Paws and people assisting Wounded Warriors is a nonprofit organization that provides dogs to Wounded Warriors at no cost. The dogs are fully trained and pass a temperament test before becoming cognitive therapy for veterans. The dogs are often assigned to veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic-stress disorder. According to PpaWWs, one in five Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom veterans suffer from TBI. The PTSD statistics are just as staggering. From 2000 to 2010, more than 66,000 deployed armed-services members were diagnosed with PTSD, according to a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service. The report said the TBI cases during that same period totaled more than 178,000.
These heroes deserve any help we can give them.
To learn more about PpaWWs or make a donation, go to www.ppawws.org.