Watching the events of 9/11 inspired Casey to join the military. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom from 2003 to 2006 as a Navy Marine Ordinance Specialist on the Kitty Hawk. As a result of his time in service, Casey was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. PTSD caused Casey to experience frequent nightmares and flashbacks leading to severe panic attacks.
As a result, Casey would isolate himself from those who loved him and close himself off from the world. When out in public certain sounds would trigger sensations of being stuck and noises reminded him of the war zone he had just left leaving Casey feeling debilitated. Casey needed someone he could rely on, someone who could make him feel protected and confident in public and around people, as well as encourage him to pursue the activities he missed.
Meet Jazzy, a German shepherd from Long Beach Animal Care Services. Jazzy passed the sociability assessment with flying colors. Her preferred spot was sitting next to her human’s side. Jazzy had a unique gift for keeping one eye on her human and the other eye/ear on her surroundings. She seemed to sense when she was needed and quickly learned new behaviors that would help Casey to feel safe in public, such as “watch my six”. When Casey and Jazzy met, it was an instant connection. The two became inseparable.
Casey describes his bond with Jazzy as being “incredible” and a “gift”. “When I come home from work she’s always there at the door waiting for me, when I open the door I feel like I just got home from a deployment and I’m home to see my family and it’s just a great feeling. I wanted to work out and go running and hiking and ride a bike and this dog is always there with me, always keeping up, amazing to have fun with. Pets for Vets does an incredible job of matching the symptoms a vet might have with a dog that would provide the best options for them like Jazzy. I have the level of confidence now that I wish I had years ago, I feel like I can overcome anything.
“If I feel frightened about anything all I do is call her name and it goes away, the pain goes away, the anxiety goes away. When I feel lonely, I have my buddy right there for me. Everybody loves Jazzy, and loves to talk to me about her. She has increased my social life. She really makes me a happy person, much happier than I ever was before I ever met her. It’s been fantastic having her around.”
Update: 9/11 has always been a triggering date for Casey, bringing back bad memories, causing him to draw within himself. A little over a year after being matched with Jazzy, Casey said it was the first time that he felt comfortable during 9/11; having Jazzy around brought him out of the shell and opened up his doors to many new experiences. Jazzy gave Casey the confidence to get married and have his first child. Casey says, “I’m so grateful and happy that I have her around. She’s my battle buddy.”
Watch Casey and Jazzy’s story below