5 min read

To The Humans And Animals That Protect Us Everyday

Animals have always been a special part of my life. As long as I can remember, I was bringing home strays and injured animals. When I was five, I brought home a stray kitten. This was my first rescued animal. It wasn't until I became an actor, and then injured my spine, that I discovered that these animals were actually very therapeutic and helped me to cope with my chronic pain. I wanted to share with others what worked for me.

People may not realize the tremendous part that therapy/companion/comfort animals have in easing the suffering of those with PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI), particularly within the military. A large part of the despair associated with these conditions is a deep sense of uselessness and being a burden to family and friends. This brings on feelings of guilt, which intensify the sense of worthlessness, igniting a downward spiral. I know this from personal experience after I sustained a severe spinal injury in 1992. I myself sank into that abysmal pit of feeling utterly worthless, useless and burdensome. Caring for an animal, especially one that you rescue, can help return you to a sense of being needed and useful. In my case, it was nearly miraculous.

The relationship between human and animal is wholly symbiotic. It sounds simple, and it is. That is why it works so well. The person needs the animal for comfort and companionship, and the animal needs the love and caring of the human. It is a classic "win-win" situation: it's remarkably spiritually uplifting to both human and animal.

I'm not a doctor, nor am I a member of the military. What I am is an appreciative, concerned American citizen who was horrified to learn about the horrendous rates of suicide (22 per day) and PTSD and TBI within our military. I felt compelled to reach out to anyone who cared to listen, to try to help with this terrible situation. Especially gratifying has been working with Guardians of Rescue's Paws of War program, which helps veterans with rescue cats and reunites military members with the stray dogs and cats that lived with them during service. This is not just life and death; it's life and death for those who defend our freedom. I've been happy to find that so many people feel likewise. Despite many reports to the contrary, kindness, concern, and a desire to do good and make a positive difference are alive and well in America. For that, I am extremely grateful. Today, take a moment to #thankavet and save a pet.