A Pets For Vets Match Story

Melanie and Abby

“I joined the United States Air Force on April 25, 2006 and served for nearly ten years (nine years and eight months) in Dyess AFB, Texas and Ramstein AB, Germany. I deployed twice, once to Thumrait, Oman and also to Kandahar, Afghanistan. During my Air Force career, I worked in Human Resources Management. I was also the Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of Casualty Operations processing over 900 casualty reports, overseeing ramp ceremonies and ensuring timely next of kin notifications.

For four of my ten years of service, I volunteered teaching English as a Second Language through the International Refugee Committee (approximately 20 hours a week). During the course of my career, I was also active in the American Red Cross, The Fisher House and Missionary work through Centro De Vida.

Being a part of the military family made up for the deployments in combat zones, long hours, high stress and 24-hour operations. Simply having the support of my brothers and sisters serving with me made a tremendous impact on my ability to cope with the physical and mental demands of serving. However, after ten years of service in the United States Air Force, I made the decision to leave the military and focus on the fight for my life. Battling pulmonary vascular disease, blood clots, respiratory distress, high blood pressure and more, became my full-time commitment.

Because of the long hours at the VA hospital and the reality of the life-threatening conditions I was facing, I was unable to work for a year. This time, I had no one to support me in the fight of my life, no one who really understood who I was and what I am facing. The anxiety of not knowing if I would live or die from day to day became overwhelming and I became depressed. Depression was my biggest foe in the fight for my life.

After fighting alone for over a year, I adopted Abigail through Pets for Vets - ROAR-Ridgefield CT. From the very first day, Abby has been my constant companion. Where I go, so does Abigail, constantly supporting me and cheering me on in her own way. Abigail can sense how I am feeling. When I am down, she is there quietly supporting me. When I have my good days, Abigail is also there, tail wagging, ready to have a good time. Somehow, Abby has become my new family and makes the struggles of chronic health challenges bearable. Since adopting Abigail, my blood pressure has been lower and I have had more better days than not. Abigail understands what I have been through and where I want to go. I know that she’ll be with me every step of the way.

Since my separation, I have been working part-time as a mentor to high-risk teens and am pursing my PhD in Adult Learning at the University of Connecticut and Abigail is right by my side.”

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