Fresh from the ECAD Blog
You’re making life better for people like Ret. Lt. Col. Michael Zacchea.
Your support has allowed him to continue to serve his fellow Veterans--a passion of his. And, live a life of more independence and mobility.
Ever since he retired from the Marine Corps as a highly decorated Lt. Col. in 2010, Mike has devoted himself to helping his fellow Veterans. This April, at the height of the pandemic, Mike found himself in need of physical and emotional assistance. Fortunately, he had Service Dog McKinley.
Mike and McKinley graduated from a Project HEAL Team Training Session on March 11 – just a few days before CT went into full lockdown. Mike needed Service Dog McKinley because his TBI had begun to affect his balance.
McKinley knows how to “brace” and when Mike feels like he is about to fall, she will get close and try to steady him. If he does fall, she will brace herself so that he can use her steady frame to lift himself up.
From day one of the lockdown, Mike was thrown into situations that reminded him of his bad times in Iraq. For Mike, who has both PTSD and TBI, this was not good. For one thing, he and McKinley were one step away from being homeless. Mike was evicted from his apartment because the landlord refused to allow a Service Dog on the premises. They moved to a hotel, living there one day at a time, knowing that with the pandemic, the hotel would inevitably shut down.
“ I re-stressed,” Mike told me during a recent check-in. “That is a real term that is used for people with PTSD. Everything became a struggle and that is when I felt like I was going into a combat situation. Just going into a grocery store, where the shelves might well be empty, gave me anxiety. Plus, the hotel room had such a small refrigerator that I couldn’t stock up, so McKinley and I had to go to the store every day. Without her at my side, I know I wouldn’t have made it.”
Without McKinley, Mike wouldn’t have made it. Your support saved his life.
Fortunately, just as the hotel was closing, Mike’s option to buy a condo was finalized.
BUT-- while moving in, Mike dislocated his hip and suffered tremendous pain for days on end whenever he put weight on his leg.
“If not for McKinley, I know that I would have just stayed prone and tried not to move. But she has needs, so I forced myself to go out with her and she has definitely been a major part of my rehab,” Mike said. “She has also helped to calm me down during this time, particularly when I heard things like a hundred or so Veterans had died in Massachusetts’s facility. That really stressed me out.”
Stress that Mike was able to navigate thanks to you, and McKinley.
Even though they were in lockdown, even though he was in terrible pain, Mike continued to help Veterans through his entrepreneurial boot camp, and started two new not-for-profit endeavors, one for Veterans and one for civilians with disabilities. He has also applied to law school and hopes to begin classes this August.
“McKinley has been with me every step of the way, literally, and when I needed her to help me handle the extra stress and emotions that came daily during such an uncertain time, she was right here” Mike said.
And I can’t thank you enough for making that possible.
During these unprecedented and uncertain times YOU ARE STILL CHANGING LIVES.
You’ve done some really amazing things for people living with disabilities these past few months. It’s unbelievable how powerful you are.
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the good you do. And the Clients do too. You are awesome and we are so grateful for your support.
Wags and woofs,
Dale Picard, Top Dog
P.S. I can’t forget the rest of your graduates! I want you to meet them as well!
James Foley Jr. and Service Dog Emoji
North Easton, MA
There was a time not so long ago that Jim, a Veteran of the first Gulf War, was so affected by his major depressive disorder combined with PTSD, that he considered suicide. Then he heard about ECAD. He knew this was what he needed to get his life back so he began going out again for fundraising activities in his community. This motivation is now carrying over to the life he knows he will have with Emoji by his side. He will be able to tolerate crowds in malls, movie theaters and restaurants - all because Emoji is there to give him confidence.
Mike Zacchea and Service Dog McKinley
Advocate, author, and activist for his fellow Vets through Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans, Mike travels all the time. Lu chose McKinley for Mike because she is just the right size to travel with Mike, and still wear the harness that helps Mike when he walks. Mike, a Marine for 21 years, retiring as a Lt. Col., has TBI, PTSD and vestibular dysfunction which causes Mike to stumble and fall frequently. Mike strongly believes that Service Dogs assisting Veterans will be a trend that becomes more and more powerful and is a strong advocate for that to happen.
Thomas Williamson and Service Dog Sequoia
New London, CT
Tom describes Sequoia as a “godsend” who does everything for him that needs doing. Tom is a Veteran of Vietnam who served his country for over 30 years as a hospital corpsman in both the Marines and the Navy. He suffers from depression, PTSD and lost his left leg 18 months ago to a wound incurred in Vietnam. Now in a wheelchair, Sequoia nudges Tom when nightmares come, retrieves all the items Tom drops, opens doors for him, pushes the handicapped button when needed, and gets Tom out and about once again to some of his favorite spots.
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