Corporal Hanks was struggling to deal with PTSD, anxiety, depression, TBI, and physical injuries after his deployment to Iraq as a Marine. PTSD and anxiety left Matthew feeling hopeless. Being out in public would cause him to have severe panic attacks, rooftops seemed like places for snipers to hide, highways caused him to involuntarily search for IEDs, debilitating nightmares made sleep impossible, frequent flashbacks and noises reminded him of the war zone he had left. It was impossible for Matthew to let his guard down, he needed help, someone he could rely on, someone who could make him feel protected in public, someone who could ease his anxiety attacks.
Enter Skylar, a stray from the South Central shelter in Los Angeles. Skylar was scared and sick at the shelter, while trying to hide from all the commotion she became stuck in a grate. Fortunately, she was rescued by a wonderful group, ARME, and Shannon Keith. Pets for Vets heard about Skylar from the online rescue community and contacted Shannon immediately. After evaluating Skylar, Pets for Vets knew Skylar would be a great match for Matthew. First, she needed to have surgery to have her swollen eye removed. Skylar recovered quickly and loved learning new behaviors to help recognize when Matthew was having an anxiety attack.
When they met for the first time, Skylar went right over to Matthew and pressed against his side for affection, she looked into his eyes and Matthew smiled. Since then they have become inseparable. Skylar sleeps with Matthew at night to eases his nightmares, remains vigilant in public so Matthew doesn’t have to, and when she senses Matthew having a panic attack she approaches with a gentle paw on his knee and soft eye contact. Skylar enjoys traveling on cross country family vacations with Matthew and his daughter. Skylar’s presence and infectious personality have given Matthew something more positive to focus on and Matthew no longer feels hopeless.
Pets for Vets thanks you, Matthew, for allowing us to be a part of your life and for your service.