One of the most humbling parts of serving as the White House press secretary is getting to meet so many of our brave military men and women. It is hard to explain how they affected me -- they are professional, courageous, and enthusiastic, as well as serene and grounded. Their decision to volunteer to serve our country -- despite the hardships and dangers -- made my decisions seem easy by comparison. One of the great joys of having been the press secretary, however, is to have a chance to help vets I get to meet -- like Dave Sharpe.
Dave Sharpe came home from serving in Operation Enduring Freedom and realized his life would never be the same. Unfortunately, due to what he experienced while fighting for his country, he struggled to re-acclimate back into his post-deployment world. He told me he lived in a state of constant despair and could not see a way back to happiness. His official diagnosis was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition affecting millions of our nation’s veterans.
A friend of his thought that meeting up with a rescue dog could help Dave feel better. He introduced him to a pit-bull puppy named Cheyenne. Their bond was immediate. One night, Dave says he reached a turning point when he woke up pounding on the wall and saw Cheyenne looking up at him. From there, he started to gain control of the difficult emotions he was feeling and drastically improved his condition. Dave says that he and Cheyenne are proof that there’s an incredible human-animal bond that exists and that it can help people many struggling with PTSD.
Dave’s experience inspired him to start PETS2VETS – an organization dedicated to helping as many of our nation's heroes and pets in starting and sustaining the power of the human-animal relationship. It’s simple, through PETS2VETS, veterans get to have the companionship and love that comes from taking care of a pet, and the pets get to live in a home instead of a shelter.
PETS2VETS is a way for Dave to share his experience and help other veterans out there living with PTSD. And this is no small problem. The National Center for PTSD estimates that there are currently 9.5 million of our nation's veterans currently diagnosed with PTSD. This includes our veterans from all wars, but does not even include members of the police and fire departments, and first responders who put themselves on the line every day for our protection. It also leaves out the millions of veterans who are living with PTSD in silence. Dave’s mission is to bring them out of the shadows and to give them a healthy, loving way to get their lives back.
Dave could use America’s help to help the brave men and women who have courageously given their service. To learn how you can help this amazing group, visit www.pets2vets.org.
Dana Perino is a Fox News contributor and former White House press secretary. Dave Sharpe will be Ms. Perino's guest in the 7:30 a.m. ET half-hour of "Fox & Friends" on Friday, March 19 when she joins the show as a guest co-host.
Fox Forum is on Twitter. Follow us @fxnopinion.