Veteran Name & MOS: Sean Wilder, 11B
Years Served: 2007 - 2012
Why did you join the army?
I felt compelled to serve my country. There was no better way to show the love that I have for America than to join the military. My life was significantly impacted by 9/11 and after that event, I knew exactly what I was going to do as an adult. I still remember the exact moment I watched the live news coverage and even though I joined years later, my main motivation came from that memory.
What are some of your most memorable experiences?
There are so many but the overall camaraderie/brotherhood is what mostly comes to mind. I really enjoyed the ability to travel to new destinations. Mostly, I miss knowing that my life had a purpose. I knew what was expected of me and when it needed to be done. I knew what I was doing was making a difference in people’s lives and that America was safer because of the actions I was taking.
Let's talk about your PTSD - How does it affect your life?
It affects everything. Literally, every aspect of my life is somehow affected by my PTSD. Whether it is my interactions with my family, friends, or my general social life (or lack there of). The little things that I used to take for granted are now significantly harder to do. Things like going to a restaurant with my family, being in the back of a grocery store, walking around the mall, etc. I often feel overwhelmed with a sense of danger when there isn’t any.
The best explanation I have ever seen for PTSD is the cup analogy. Everyone has a base amount of “good” stress – choices they make throughout the day like what to make for dinner, what to wear that day, general work, etc. When something bad happens “bad” stress is introduced. These are things like juggling finances, getting fired, and struggling with relationships.
For people without PTSD, the cup has the base “good” stress and plenty of room to accommodate the “bad” stress so they can handle it. They might feel overwhelmed with the increase but it is manageable.
People with PTSD have good and bad stress like everyone else but we struggle with a significant amount of PTSD that fills up the majority of our cup so when the “bad” stress is introduced it overflows our cup. It means that sometimes we overreact to situations – like dirty dishes in the sink or the toilet paper roll being on backward. They may seem minor, but they are the tipping point that causes everything to spill over.
It's hard to live a life like that. I have come a long way since when I was first diagnosed but there are still times that I struggle. I have tried so many different medications, but nothing works for me and frankly, I don’t want to be a zombie. I want to be able to live my life and be there for my kids.
Why do you want/need a service dog?
I am hoping that Pandora will help increase my comfort level while I am in public and ground me when I am at home. There are so many things that I want to do that seem overwhelming or hard, having Pandora to watch my back will significantly increase my quality of life.
Pandora is ready to help Sean heal! As a rescue herself she was initially identified by her rescue league – Passion 4 Pits as a potential service dog. After passing both her initial interview and her three-day evaluation period with flying colors she moved in with Elena to start formally training. She has a built-in ability to notice when Elena is stressed/overwhelmed and is picking up the training quickly!
Purpose of Funds Raised:
The average cost of a PTSD service dog is between $15,000-$20,000. This puts these valuable dogs out of the reach for most of the veterans that need them the most. Paws of Grace: Service Dogs for Veterans is dedicated to helping as many veterans as possible obtain dogs that can change their life at no cost to the veteran. Elena (Veteran and Founder) trains the dogs directly and hosts them at her own home during the initial training. If she was to charge for this training she would be paid between $10,000 and $15,000! Paws of Grace depends completely on donations from individuals like you, even $5 can help! If any funds are raised over the amount needed for Pandora and Sean they will be directed toward the next dog and veteran.
Specific Fees That Need To Be Covered
Cost of obtaining Pandora & Training:
Rescue League Adoption Fee (includes spay, initial shots & exam, etc): $350.00
Flea & Tick Prevention: $350.00
Supplies for the first year after placement with the Veteran including:
Annual Vet Exam: $150.00
Flea & Tick Prevention: $480.00
Heartworm Prevention Shot: $150.00
Service Dog Certification Class for Dog & Veteran: $305.00
Service Dog Vest, Collar & Leash: $90.00