A year ago Harper, a pitbull, was facing a death sentence. Condemned buy a jury of three “experts”. These people determined that Harper was too aggressive and possibly violent to ever be safely placed in a forever home and must be euthanized.

JR, who lives in the same town of Hollister, MO receives a call from Shawn, head of Dog’s Nation and the Battle Buddies Program. He learns of Harper plight and immediately heads to the shelter to evaluate her himself. All he found was a loving dog who did not deserve her sentence.

Fast forward a year later. Harper is ready to go to a Vet in Mexico. But the worst thing happens. Covid-19 hits and like other service dog programs, their operations have ground to a halt. No Vets across state lines or special cases were getting paired with a trained service dog.

That is except me.

I was within state lines. And my friend JR knew I needed a dog and that there was no way I could come up with the money on my own. So he reached out to Shawn. Together they determined that Harper and I would make a good fit.

Today Harper and I met for the first time and it was love at first sight. She is a sweetheart of a dog. Very well trained. She is currently receiving specialized training for my particular needs. We will have another meeting/test next Saturday at a kids’ fair in Springfield, MO. There will be lots of stimulus, kids running and screaming, noises, crowds. If her and I, because I have social anxiety and all that is NOT something I want to put myself through, can pass we are one step closer to having her come home with us.

My son Max went with us and had some one on one time with Harper. He loved on her and she enjoyed every minute of it. We still have to introduce my two dogs to Harper to make sure everyone will get along.

I never thought this dream would come true for me. And I feel like I don’t deserve it when so many other Vets are out there suffering alone without a Battle Buddy, and Army term for partner. But the word mean more than that. It is a bond between two people that are willing to die for one another. That we would be there for each other no matter what.

That is what I miss most from the military.

Battle Buddies started with that in mind. Connect these Vets who wounds are often not visible with trained service dogs at no cost to them. Mind you that a fully trained service dog can cost in upwards of $30k or more. Shawn, head of Dog’s Nation, has been working with training dogs for vets for over 15 years.

Our Battle Buddies now need our help. Donations are becoming harder to come by, food is getting low, there are 140 dogs now in a holding pattern because we don’t want to risk Shawn’s own health, a woman who is 68 years young, who cares for and trains every single one of these dogs. Not all will pass to become full fledged Service Dogs, but most will go to Vets needing an Emotional Support Animal that is well trained.

22 Vets and 1 Soldier/Sailor/Marine/Airman commits suicide every day. Two had while waiting for Service Dogs from Shawn. Organizations like Dog’s Nation must continue to exist to help us when the VA will not. Please consider donating to their cause and held end soldier suicide.

Last year, when JR thought he was saving one life, he actually was saving two.

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