“Shepherds of Mount Eden” is awarding Special Operations Chief Aaron Charles Reed, with a Lieutenant Alexandria and Colonel Emmanuel male sable puppy as a “Thank You Award” for his outstanding, honorable service on behalf of the American People.
Special Thank You to Brian Marchesseault with “Watchmen Defense Training Group, LLC” for nominating Special Operations Chief Aaron Charles Reed and donating the Full Training Package to Mr. Reed’s German Shepherd Award!
Thank You All very much for your service in honoring our veterans!
“Shepherds of Mount Eden”
“Shepherds of Mount Eden” is very happy to announce that Paul William Whitmer has picked up his “Thank You Award”, search and rescue partner, “Volker”! Thanks to Jayne Athey! Great work Jayne!
“Volker” will be training and working long hours with Paul at his firehouse.
Since Paul Whitmer is currently on the streets saving lives, “Shepherds of Mount Eden” determined that Paul will be awarded a working partner to help fulfill his dream of being able to save more lives using a German Shepherd and his personal service puppy that will live in his home.
Stacey at “Positive Paws K-9 Training” has offered to fully train Paul’s service puppy, “Nadja” for 18 months everyday,
with “Nadja” going home with Paul every night. (to be delivered soon from Louisville Kentucky)
“Shepherds of Mount Eden” would like to officially thank “Paul William Whitmer”, on behalf of the American People for his honorable and continued service to our USA!
Thank you all for your service in honoring those who protect and keep us free!
“Shepherds of Mount Eden” was contacted with an emergency situation that a 2 year old sable female German Shepherd named “Charlie” had snapped at a 3 year old child and had to leave their house right away!
We put out a request for an experienced veteran preferably without children and a wonderful “Coast Guard” couple, Mike Sabo and Mandi Barrett answered the call and rescued “Charlie”!
The first two pictures are of “Charlie” in her original home.
The next pictures are of her going home and meeting her 3 year old mate, “Carson” and then finally taking over Mandi and Mike’s home! : )
Abrams received his mission with an E4 Army veteran in Asheville North Carolina! : )
Thanks to a generous donor and member of “Shepherds of Mount Eden”, Abrams will receive a couple more weeks of training and on his way to his forever home! : )
Thank You All! : )
The Gomm family presenting the “Thank You Award” to the Tong family for their honorable service to our Nation on behalf of the American people for “Shepherds of Mount Eden”.
Thank You all for your service to freedom/veterans!
Scott and Alicia picked up his “Thank You German Shepherd Award” today thanks to Stephanie Baliko! : )
Scott and Alicia. Waterford Ohio. Were stationed in Germany at Ramstein AFB in the beginning of his career, then Malmstrom AFB in Montana, moved to Texas which is where he joined the ARNG and did most of his different MOS like tank commander, gunner, mechanic, truck driver then when they moved back to his hometown in Ohio. He was with an engineer unit until he found his home… with WVARNG in Moundsville, WV and was back to his MP MOS which is the unit he went to Iraq with and caused his PTSD, agoraphobia, high vigilance, anxiety. He is still in therapy, still dealing with physical issues from a roll over from Iraq. Pryor to war he loved the outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping with his kids.
Scott wanted a male German Shepherd to train for search and rescue to get back out into nature and help his community. Thanks to Stephanie Baliko, Scott and Gunner’s mission has begun! : )
Hello, I asked Amanda to share some adventures and what she would do with a German Shepherd puppy and this was her reply, “My name is Amanda and I am USAF disabled veteran where I served as an aircraft engine mechanic, with two deployments to the desert during “Operation Enduring Freedom” and “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. I am now an engine records assistant on an air base in Oklahoma. I am an Army wife to an Army veteran and a mother to our two wonderful children.
I suffer fro…m Ménière’s disease which is a progressive deafening disease. It is a struggle everyday, with attacks of vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, dizziness and more. Unfortunately there is no cure and as my attacks lesson I will lose more and more of my hearing eventually becoming deaf. I have spoken with my doctors and they have agreed that with how debilitating this disease can be, a service dog could help me. I need assistance with guiding while walking, retrieving, alerting, and responding to my side when I have an attack. I also suffer from PTSD and anxiety so aid and that would be wonderful. My dream is to have a Service Dog who can go through my life by my side ever learning tasks that will help me lead a semi-normal life. And be able to be more available for my children. Thank you for listening to my story, and for any help you can provide.”
Please comment or message us if you can help this wonderful family by donating a puppy!
Another generous member is arranging for the training of the puppy that you donate.
Thank You very much for your service in helping veterans!
Thanks to a wonderful new breeder member of “Shepherds of Mount Eden” that Amanda Young located, She received her new 12 week old service dog! : )
They are also going to donate their entire next littler to “Shepherds of Mount Eden”!
Amanda Young is now an honorable representative of “Shepherds of Mount Eden” and will award and distribute this prize litter! : )
Thank You all very much for your service in honoring our veterans! : )
WAYNESBORO-From 2004 to 2006, Waynesboro resident Paul Whitmer served his country in Iraq. As a soldier in the United States Army, he was the convoy commander and medic for his unit.
“I lost a lot of friends and lost a lot of comrades,” Whitmer said. “It’s just a horrific thing no one should ever have to encounter.”
As a child, Whitmer knew it was his calling to help people. He was in an incident at age 14 where he damaged his leg. That farther sparked his interest to help people. In 1987, Whitmer joined the United States Army. He was trained to watch out for his buddies and took an EMT class where his love to serve others grew.
He had 14 years of active duty and six as a reservist. Whitmer also served as a firefighter and continues to today. When he returned back from Iraq, Whitmer noticed he was a changed man.
“[It impacted me] greatly. It changes you as far as who you are, what you believe and how you act. It’s had a huge impact on me,” he said.
Whitmer began to acknowledge and accept he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“There are so many of us that are coming back that have that mentality. One, we don’t want to admit we need assistance so they don’t seek out assistance,” Whitmer explained. “They sit at home, they drink or they do drugs in order to counteract the situation and the things they’ve seen. They don’t get that assistance that’s unfortunately why we’re at this standpoint now of the 22 veterans that kill themselves every day.”
“It can trigger from smells, sounds or sights that can cause flashbacks, that can cause temporary episodes that happen,” he added. “Some days it can intensify. Some days it’s perfectly fine. It just depends. What I want people to understand is that doesn’t make us unstable—by no means.”
Dr. Amit Shahane is an Assistant Professor and licensed psychologist at the University of Virginia (UVA) Health System within the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences. He provides treatment for PTSD at the UVA Behavioral Medicine Center.
“PTSD is classically defined as exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violation,” Shahane explained. “The exposure results from when a person directly experiences a traumatic event, witnesses the traumatic event in person, learns the traumatic event occurred to a close family member or friend, or experiences first-hand repeated or extreme exposures to aversive details of a traumatic event.”
“Anyone can experience PTSD. However, not everyone who experiences something traumatic will develop PTSD,” he added.
Early treatment of PTSD improves success rates, he said. It’s important to seek help.
“PTSD can be a debilitating health condition that can have a host of individual and societal consequences,” Shahane said. “Without treatment, individuals may experience deteriorating social and family relationships, an inability to work, increased physical health problems and an overall poorer quality of life.”
Offering a helping hand
Whitmer said his wife is a huge supporter. She will recognize trigger noises and diffuse the situation. Just recently, she was on Facebook and looked into Shepherds of Mount Eden.
Joseph Kerr runs the organization. His mission is to improve the lives of veterans and people with disabilities. To thank veterans, Kerr works to pair people with service dogs. Kerr’s family has a military history; his dad and son served and his youngest son enlisted to begin in more than a year.
“After 9-11, I went to enlist and they told me that I was one year too old, so I joined the United States Water Patrol as a volunteer,” Kerr said. “A few short years ago, my youngest son and I were inspired to breed and train service dogs for veterans to have companionship on their mission reenlisting to protect us all at home.”
“I won’t stop thinking about the 22 veterans that are committing suicide each day,” he added.
A puppy is selected to be a service dog based on a tight bond to the human and its attentiveness. Based out of Louisville, Ky., Shepherds of Mount Eden takes time to find a puppy that is the right match and get it to the person in need.
Whitmer is a unique case; the organization decided to send him two dogs instead of one. He will receive a 2-year-old dog for search and rescue. In time, he will also receive a puppy to be a service dog for his PTSD. Kerr worked hard to find a match for Whitmer. Kerr said he deserved it.
“Whitmer is an ideal recipient of a Shepherds of Mount Eden Thank You Award because he is working to serve his community in a very brave capacity worthy of his experience and training,” Kerr said. “A true American hero.”
When the puppy arrives, it will need to be trained. Training a service dog normally takes about 18 months. It will learn obedience commands and how to interpret and diffuse situations.
That’s where Stacey Gibson of Positive Paws stepped in to help. She holds a special place in her heart for Whitmer and those who serve our country.
“A few weeks ago, I had a pretty serious accident outside of Positive Paws. I was pinned between two cars,” Gibson said. “For someone who has her own anxiety issues due to seizures and epilepsy, it was a traumatic experience.”
“Everything happened really fast. The ambulance, the firefighters were there. All I can remember is passing out and when I came to, there was one person in front of me at the bottom of my legs and he’s talking to me through everything that was going on,” she explained. “I was so scared. I was crying. I was screaming. He talked me through everything and calmed me down as best as he could in the situation.”
The only injury she ended up facing was a torn meniscus in her knee and stress of the traumatic experience. Gibson believes everything happens for a reason. When she saw the face of the man who wanted a service dog, she knew it was the man who helped her and decided to reach out.
“You meet people for different reasons and I’m a strong believer that Positive Paws is to give back to our community,” she said. “Hence, I want to help him for his service as a veteran and his service to the community. We need to give back.”
Gibson decided to train the service dog as a gift and thank you to Whitmer. They will build the bond between Whitmer and the dog. She will learn how to pick up items to distract Whitmer, to block or cover him when he has anxiety issues or PTSD flare-ups and more.
“Dogs trained to assist people with PTSD learn a range of tasks from standing in front or behind them to fend off crowds of approaching people, waking a person from a nightmare or sweeping a room before a person enters the room for people so basically the human can be calm. They provide love, companionship and affection,” Gibson said. “A PTSD dog can literally change the life of a veteran or any other person with PTSD.”
Gibson was excited for the opportunity to help and give back to the community. It is important to her that veterans and responders receive thanks for all they do. Whitmer was blown away at her offer to train the dog.
“She is donating her time to help train whatever dog I get,” he said. “I don’t look for things, I don’t expect things and I don’t ask for things. It has been a little difficult as far as the outpouring of generosity that’s been associated with this.”
Whitmer thought having a service dog would be a great help to him.
“It helps with so many different things. Just knowing that this dog is there to assist you, that does help take a lot of weight off your shoulders,” he said. “All they simply do is they nudge you, they lick your hand or they come up to you and put their paw on you. It helps you draw out of it and know that this is going on and they’re bringing me out of it.”
For the Future
Whitmer does not like to focus on himself. His passion is to help people and put others before him. His hope is to transform his service dog to also have other talents.
“I [want to] utilize this dog that has been so graciously donated to me and help the community in any way possible that I can,” Whitmer said. “We’re going to take it even one stop farther than that. As a veteran, I’m going to help use this dog to help continue with the awareness; to get this dog out in the public to find every veteran that I can so I can also give back.”
“It started out as for me, but I don’t want it for me. That’s why I think this is amazing to where this little seed has blossomed,” he added.
Whitmer is reserved and quiet about the time he served. He hopes putting himself and his story out would help other veterans or people suffering with PTSD. Not only veterans may develop PTSD, he said. Other people who experience traumatic situations or abuse could also have PTSD.
“I am admitting that I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD; it’s kind of been a small weight off your shoulders,” Whitmer said. “The biggest message I want to make is it’s okay. You don’t have to be that big, burly don’t-let-anything-get-you-down to go through this. There is help out there whether or not we want to admit it, we need it.”
Whitmer also hoped PTSD would become a topic more talked about.
“This is something that will never go away. You can’t erase the mind of those things that are burned into your brain,” he said. “Hopefully even with me putting myself out there, which I had no intention of, hopefully it will allow at least one more veteran to move forward.”
Michelle Mitchell is a reporter and photographer for the News Virginian. She may be reached at email@example.com or twitter at @MichelleTNV