Wish we had a Wells Fargo in town....might have to take a few hour drive to drop off a few bucks for the "Sadie Surgery Fund". Closest one.....looks like about 200 miles.... so it's time to go.
Help this dude out if you have the capability. A buck or two from every vaper that reads this would change this Vet's life...and his buddy Sadie.
Jeremy Petersen nearly got his head taken off by a mortar rocket and saw a lot of bad things during three tours in Iraq.
After the third tour, Petersen decided to leave the Army and returned home with severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. He's easily agitated and doesn't like crowds. He suffers bouts of depression and three or four migraine headaches a week - all hidden wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas, where Petersen transitioned into civilian life, doctors approved him for a service dog, a 45-pound mixed-breed of Shar Pei and golden Labrador, a "licker" named Sadie.
With Sadie at his side, Petersen began to smile again. He felt less threatened and more centered.
But Sadie, 7 now, is sick.
Days before Petersen was medically discharged as a sergeant in December and headed home to Charlotte, he noticed Sadie favoring her left eye. It was constantly weepy.
Veterinarians here prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. None helped.
Now they say Sadie needs a CT scan to see if the tennis ball-sized lump over her eye is a tumor, and likely surgery to remove it. That will cost thousands.
Petersen will barely draw $1,000 a month when his disability checks kick in next month. His mother and stepfather, Denise and Richard Smith, say they can't afford to pay for the treatments.
They all know something must be done for Sadie.
"I can tell she's in pain," Petersen, 27, said. "But she doesn't complain. She's really mellow. I think she stays calm because she's taking care of me.
"It stresses me out because I want her to be well and I can't fix it."
His mother, who works for a bank, worries about her son and Sadie.
"Even though Jeremy still struggles with memories of Iraq, he is so much calmer with Sadie," Denise Smith said. "He seems so much more hopeful now with her."
Mother notices changed son
Petersen had hoped to make the Army a career.
He enlisted in 2002. His field artillery unit was based in Germany when it was sent to Iraq in early 2004.
That tour, he was cleaning a piece of equipment on a hill when a rocket whizzed past, just missing his head. Another time, a mortar exploded 20 feet away. The blast took some of his hearing. "By the laws of physics, I should have been hit by a bunch of rocks and shrapnel," he said.
After the first tour ended in March 2005, Denise Smith saw a changed son when he came home for a visit.
"He was hyper-vigilant," she said. "He was more guarded, not comfortable with strangers."
Petersen stayed in the Army, and when his units were called to Iraq two more times, he went. The bad experiences continued, including cleaning out a Humvee of brain matter and blood.
After the third tour, Smith said she noticed depression set in. Her son decided he'd had enough. Of his nine years in the Army, he'd spent four fighting in Iraq.
When he arrived at Fort Bliss, he saw other soldiers had dogs. By then, the military understood that dogs could help relieve symptoms of PTSD.
Sadie is a certified service dog, not a military dog.
"The Army doctors told me that paying for any medical treatment would come out of my pocket," Petersen said.
Dog and master rarely apart
Since he got her, Petersen and Sadie have rarely been apart. By law, where he goes, she can go with him wearing her "service dog" tag and vest.
She sat at his feet on the plane when Petersen flew to Charlotte just before last Christmas to live with his mother and stepfather.
Now they go to restaurants and shops together.
As the swelling worsened around Sadie's eye, Petersen and Smith took her to see a veterinary ophthalmologist. That is when the doctor told them about the CT scan. It would cost between $1,200 and $1,700. Surgery to remove the lump - or tumor, if it is one - would cost more than $2,000.
"I got upset," Smith said. " ... I showed the ophthalmologist Sadie's 'service dog' tag. I told her my son spent three tours in Iraq and without this dog, he has no chance of having whatever normal life he can hope to have....
"They said they'd give us a 10-percent discount."