By: Beth Zimmerman,
Founder & Executive Director PETS FOR PATRIOTS, Inc.
Because good pets start with good food, Pets for Patriots is proud to have HALO’s sponsorship of our companion pet adoption program.
We are a nationally operating charity delivering the healing power of shelter pets to service and veteran members of the United States military. Learn how every honorable adoption saves two lives by reading this real-life story.
For one veteran coping with PTSD and depression, his saving grace came in the form of a one-eyed dog who had been previously abused. This is his story, in his own words.
My name is Matthew Goschke; I’m born and raised in Rochester, New York. I’ve lived here my whole life besides my experiences with the military. I currently run security for the City of Rochester, loss prevention for The Home Depot and am pursuing my paramedic degree. After my military service I found integrating back into civilian life a lot more difficult then I had anticipated.
Light at the end of a “very dark” road
I was discharged from the Army honorably for PTSD and depression, which are results of my military time in service. It’s a terrible thing to have to deal with and the road I was on was a very dark one. I felt as if no one truly understood what I was going through. I started missing sleep, social life and work because of what was going on in my mind.
A good friend of mine recommended possibly getting a pet as a companion to help take my mind off things. I took her advice and went to my local shelter in Rochester. At this time not only was I dealing with my medical issues, I was going through a terrible divorce where I pretty much lost everything.
Since my adoption my life has done a complete 360. I couldn’t be happier. I was told by my grandmother “everything happens for a reason;” this is an exact example of that.
People are sometimes weirded out by the connection my dog and I have. I just know it’s the realest thing I’ve ever felt. Might not make sense because I can’t put a word on it, but bear with me here!
A dream fulfilled, then PTSD and depression
I joined the military in 2007 as a diver, but re-classed to what was my life long dream: to be a military police officer. I was honorably discharged from the Army for PTSD and depression due to events during my time of service. Since I can remember, the only thing I’ve ever wanted was to serve my country and be in the armed forces. I followed my dream.
Finding it hard to cope with my PTSD and depression, I had been to countless doctors and put on countless meds that I couldn’t even spell to save my life. Nothing seemed to work at all. After a friend of mine put the idea out there about a pet, I thought: it couldn’t hurt; I had tried it all.
I went to the Lollypop Farm shelter in Rochester. When I arrived it was the first time I had heard of the Pets for Patriots program and thought it would be great!
A one-eyed dog becomes a “symbol of hope”
Words cannot express how much my dog has changed my life. I shouldn’t say changed – I should say SAVED.
I saw no good end in sight until I met Tia, who I renamed Eli (she didnt seem to mind). She was in a bad spot just as I was: she was abused, starved, made to fight, had scars, lost her eye and even was electrocuted. She was a symbol hope for me.
This dog had been through all of these unthinkable events and was still as happy as could be. She is my motivation. My CURE. My life.
She is now my ESA (Emotional Support Animal) . I’m off virtually all medications and Eli is actually prescribed to me by my doctor. She is my miracle.
She’s extremely funny; with only one eye she constantly runs into things and chases her tail (though only from one side). She’s gentle, protective, loyal, trustworthy and everything I wish I can be and display the rest of my life.
When asked what he would tell other veterans who might be thinking about adopting a last-chance pet through Pets for Patriots, Matthew says, “Simply to DO IT!”
In what ways has your pet been your personal miracle?