My name is Daniel Goodman and I’m an U.S. Army veteran. I served 5 years active duty with one major deployment to Iraq from 2005 - 06 as HET system operator and security detail for transportation as well as FOB security at Camp Taji. I encountered several IED explosions over my travels of Iraq and was engaged in several combat scenarios. I lost several battle buddies and close friends.
After my deployment I was diagnosed with PTSD and TBI in early 2007 and by September 2007 I was separated from the Army into the care of the VA. I have been seeking treatment since then for both TBI and PTSD. I have been through almost all the PTSD treatments that my local VAMC offers and still felt incredibly isolated from humanity and at times, myself. The world had become a danger to me and me to it. I was constantly surveilling any and all traffic that I encountered if I was willing to go out in public. I was suspicious of everyone and everything, whether it was a beaten-up car or curbside that had just been repaved or simply trash on the side of the road. Nobody was a friendly and I was all alone. This has gone on for twelve years. Severe anxiety, hypervigilance, isolation, and depression.
In August of 2019, Pets for Vets introduced me to Fletcher. A beautiful fun-loving, grown-up puppy with a love for the world, people, and other animals. He was so excited and well behaved and I honestly didn’t know what to do. I was in love instantly. Since Fletcher moved in, I had no choice but to interact with the world on a more personal level, simply because I had to take him to use the bathroom. Despite my overwhelming need to scan my sector he demanded my attention and gave me a type of therapy that nobody ever could. He presented the opportunity to go out into the world and see it for what it currently is rather than what I was trained to see. Furthermore, while we’re inside my apartment he knows when I’m getting anxious or in my head or when I’ve begun to drift off somewhere else and he’s right there to bring my back. He keeps me present, grateful, loved and safe. My quality of life has since been better than it has ever been, and I credit that directly to Fletcher. We go to the park all the time or the river or simply to walk the streets. I’m up for any of it almost always. I sleep like a rock now as opposed to only three to four hours a night. My stress and anxiety levels seem to be unnoticeable most of the time. He is literally enabling me to be a better human being.
Pets for Vets and Fletcher gave me a second chance at experiencing life for what it is right now rather than for what it was so long ago. They allowed me to come home, finally. I am forever grateful and in their debt.