Dave – Springfield

Springfield IlliniosSpringfield IlliniosI am a veteran of the U.S. Army, where I was a member of the 95B, Military Police.  I was medically and honorably discharged despite my desire to stay in the military in 1991, and went into long-haul trucking where I worked for 20 years.  After an accident left me unable to drive commercial vehicles, I used my Veteran’s Benefits to return to school.  In 2017, I graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS).

In 2013, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and started looking into getting a Service Dog to help me after thoroughly researching how Service Dogs can assist those with PTSD.  In January of 2014, I got ‘Max’; a Husky and German Shepherd mix, when she was 9 weeks old.  I started training her as a Service Dog as soon as she was house broken, utilizing my own knowledge from my Psychology Degree and my research on self-training a Service Dog.  ‘Max’ accompanied me everywhere I went after he was fully-trained, including attending classes with me.  He was so helpful in helping me with my studies, and brought so much joy to everyone on campus!

Springfield IlliniosI have been married for 20 years, and my youngest daughter was diagnosed with ADHD.  I knew that a Service Dog could assist her with her ADHD; especially in training her to ‘focus’.  I found her a suitable dog with the right temperament and ability to train in 2015. Their work together bonding and assisting my daughter with focus and patience made them a successful SD/Handler team.  Now, my daughter takes her Service Dog to classes with her at Lincoln Land Community College here in Springfield and she is excelling!

I am currently enrolled in a Master’s program at UIS, and working on becoming a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.  I plan to use ‘Max’ in my career and incorporate ‘Max’ into my practice to help other veterans overcome the same difficulties I had with PTSD.

I have accumulated close to 2000 hours of volunteer service with the American Legion including; organizing everything for send-offs for new recruits leaving for basic training; funerals for those that paid the ultimate sacrifice, protecting our great nation; arranging homecomings for those returning from a deployment to a combat theater; helping veterans clean up after their home has been destroyed by fire or other disasters; and starting fundraisers Veterans needing financial assistance after a prolonged illnesses.  In my spare time, I train Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals for veterans who are in need of them.

From 2011 to 2015, I was enrolled at Dixie State University.  During this time, I was involved in many different service activities, from helping to organize ‘puppy day’ as a stress relief during finals to fund raisers to help promote actives for the Dixie Psychology Club and the Dixie Veterans Club. I also helped to organize workshops for faculty so that they could recognize when a student might be about to experience a “PTSD episode”, and what common activities in the classroom might be a ‘trigger’ for those episodes so that we could recognize and work through them with the students.  I helped Dr. Craver, Vice President of Human Resources at Dixie State, to bring the school’s Service Dog policy in line with the current Americans with Disabilities Act.  I also presented, during the spring 2014 ‘Dixie Research Day’ on my research paper: The Demonology of PTSD: Are you Dr. Jeckle or Mr. Hyde?”  During the 2015-2016 school year, my Service Dog ‘Max’ was named the “Service Dog of the Year” by the Dean of the School of Humanities at Dixie State University, Richard Featherstone.

Service Dogs For Those With PTSD and Other Disabilities