Heather, U.S.A.F

November 2013 Class

Age: 44                                            Years in Service:     8 Years        Rank: O4

Served in:  Iraq

My Career:

I served eight years of my military career in the medical field serving in the Air Force.  During my stateside tour, I was a physician for local troops and retirees and eventually became head of Geriatric Medicine for a residency program in San Antonio, TX.  Additionally, I chaired the Ethics Committee for Lackland AFB.  During my service in Iraq, I was a trauma intensive care physician for a combat unit.  All things considered, I cherish my service to our country and am proud to have had the opportunity to serve in combat.

About PTSD:  

Combat physical injuries are not always overtly evident.  Although it is not as common, female veterans can have complex PTSD that is derived from combat.  PTSD has led to severe dysfunction of my GI tract which required several abdominal surgeries as well as a partial removal of my colon.  This condition, along with the asthma I developed while in Iraq, has significantly reduced my quality of life.

Now that I have been paired with Josh, I am hopeful and optimistic that our working relationship and bond will bring me back to life and not allow the horror of PTSD continue to cast such a dark shadow on me.  I know the love and devotion that Josh has for me will give me a chance for a wonderful life and boost my confidence to go out into the world again.  I am honored to be able to reciprocate the love and devotion my new service dog, Josh, will provide.

Looking forward to:  

I am most looking forward to regaining my overall independence!  I would love to start a part time job and re-focus my professional goals to help others recover from PTSD/TBI and other combat-related injuries using my capacity as a physician.  

On a personal note, resuming an overall healthy life and outlook in all spheres – personal, spiritual, emotional, social and professional will be important to me.  I look forward to achieving inner peace and balance.  Growing and re-engaging with my family, Mary and Michelle, would be priceless.

About Josh:

Josh is a 2 year old male yellow Labrador Retriever.  He came as an owner surrender.  His owner died unexpectedly, and his owner's brother couldn't keep the dog so he donated him.  Josh is a big boy with a sweet personality and an all around good temperament.  He can be a little strong willed but he loves yummy treats!

Team Updates

Embedded thumbnail for Heather's Interview Part Two
Heather tells about her experience and what it was like working with the trainers. She is glad that throughout this program she did not just gain a new companion but several friendships as well with the other women in the class. Heather also shares a few of her plans once she returns home.Read More >>
Embedded thumbnail for Heather's Interview Part One
Heather shares a little about her life before she began the program and the obstacles she faced while struggling with PTSD. After graduating from the program, Heather feels privileged to have Josh in her life.Read More >>
Meet the rest of the November women's class! All of these spectacular women graduated from the program and out of this experience have gained friendships and most importantly a new buddy who will teach them how to lead a new happier life. Congratulations November Class!Read More >>
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Heather and Josh finally graduate after completing the three week program. Heather loved every moment she spent there and all the new friends she made. As much of a blessing as the experience and opportunity was, she is ready to go home and lead a new life with Josh!Read More >>
Embedded thumbnail for Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Heather and Josh are soon coming to an end in their training but are heading to have a fun day at St Augustine for their last field trip! Heather continues to work on long distance calls with Josh. Josh might be slower than the other dogs when it comes to speed, but slow and steady wins the race!Read More >>
Embedded thumbnail for Home Depot Training
After their morning walk at the park, Josh and Heather head off for a day of training starting at Home Depot. Here they work on loud noises and other distractions. Josh knows when he is working, so the loud beeps and the cart did not phase him one bit.Read More >>
Embedded thumbnail for Morning Walk at the Park
Heather and Josh start the day off by going on their morning walk at the park and then practicing basic obedience. Josh had been in bootcamp alot longer than the other dogs in the class which means he has had more time with the trainer. Josh never disappoints and always performs to his best!Read More >>
Embedded thumbnail for Heather Takes Josh Shopping
Josh and Heather spent the day working on basic obedience at the mall. The mall is a good place to be tested because of the big crowds and loud echoing noises which can throw the dogs off. Josh worked on long distance calls and cover and performed flawlessly!Read More >>
Heather and Josh start their morning out by training at the park. Josh is a very intelligent dog and is always on his best behavior for his mom. Without a doubt, Josh will be a big spoiled boy!Read More >>
Embedded thumbnail for Love at Frist Sight
Heather meets Josh for the first time and it was love at first sight. Josh instantly took to Heather and just from the few hours they had training outside, you can tell they will make a great team throughout the next three weeks!Read More >>