I was in the Army National Guard for 12 years, and out of that time I spent about 10 years on active duty orders in one way or another. I enlisted at 17 years old my junior year in high school and I’m proud to have done so. I had one deployment to Iraq where I did convoy security. I married my husband about a year after coming home, which we are coming up on our 10 year anniversary this year and we now have 2 children together.
I have anxiety that keeps me from going out to do anything where there will be a lot of people. This is a huge impact on my life and the life of my family. I am thankful daily for my husband because he understands how I feel about crowds and honestly he feels the same way as he is a veteran as well.
We have tried to go to places like the Mall of America without great success as we both wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. There were too many people and too many different places for surprises to come from. We can usually make it through the zoo as long as we take breaks where we can sit with our backs to a wall of some sort and breathe for a bit. I don’t think this is fair for my kids because they deserve to experience all the great things of childhood without their parents having anxiety attacks.
When I first came home from deployment I was put on medication for the PTSD and anxiety and I was in therapy for a couple years. I was thankful to have the medication as an option but I hated feeling like a zombie. With help from both my doctor and my therapist I was able to be weaned off the meds and have just been dealing with the anxiety since then. I believe that being able to have my dog with me will be a huge help and will make it that I can go out in crowded places without being completely overwhelmed and will be able to give my children a good experience in crowds instead of completely avoiding the crowds or my kids having to deal with me being overwhelmed.
I am thankful for Soldiers 6 because they made me feel like it was okay for me to be asking for help. In the past I have put off trying to get a dog to help me out because I didn’t feel I was deserving enough even though my therapist had written me a letter to help me obtain a service dog. I felt like others had been through worse than me and are more deserving. I am looking forward to new experiences for both myself and my family by being able to go more places and not feel completely overwhelmed.