Since I began flying missions for VAC two years ago, each of the 16 missions has been special in one way or another. What a privilege it has been to give back a little to the young men and women of our armed forces have sacrificed so much. Our last two missions have been unique and demonstrate how much others have given to assist in the rehabilitation of of our injured heros.
Former Military Policeman, Michael Paz was involved in multiple IED blasts during back to back tours in Iraq. He suffered hearing loss,physical injures to his knees and back with accompanying PTSD.
William Garibaldi had a similar history. He was deployed three times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. He also was involved in several IED blasts and is currently medically retired.
What was unique about these two men was that both of them were headed to New Braunfuls, TX to take advantage of a wonderful service provided by Operation K9 run by Joan Moss and Janell Stone-Pritzkau. They provide service dogs that help in the rehabilitation of wounded warriors whether they be suffering physical or mental hardship. It was heartwarming to see the faces of these two men as they began to bond with their dogs. As a dog lover myself, I could easily see what a huge difference this would make in their lives. When we arrived in Okmulgee bringing Will home, he was greeted by his wife and kids who were so excited. We couldn't tell whether it was excitement seeing him emerge from a private jet or they were just so glad to see Dad home, or perhaps it was the excitement of meeting the new canine member of the family.
Regardless, it brought a bright smile to my wife Gail's face and mine and made us further realize that what we were doing was well worthwhile.