SPOKANE, Wash – Tim McDonough from Spokane Valley is one of countless veterans across America dealing with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
He served in the Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan. McDonough's mission was to fly in and out of the combat zone to bring home those brave men and women who lost their lives fighting for our freedoms.
"We brought home the fallen," McDonough told KHQ. "Close to 214 is the number I remember of bringing guys home."
When McDonough returned home in 2006 from his final tour, he realized he wasn't the same man. He began having problems with everyday life. When he was diagnosed with PTSD, his wife suggested he be paired with a service dog.
"If somebody would have told me today I'm where I'm at, I would have told them they're crazy," McDonough said. "I fought my wife for about six months on this."
But soon, his love for his dog – and the help it gave him – transformed him. Eventually he and his wife incorporated the training program into "Shepherds for Lost Sheep," a non-profit organization that connects veterans with PTSD or traumatic brain injuries with service dogs who help them cope, calm them from nightmares or other traumatic stimuli, and stay with them around the clock. The program has already helped 35 veterans, and 28 more are on the wait list.
Now in its second year, a group of roughly two dozen veterans and trainers are meeting this week near Cheney, and many of the veterans are meeting with their dogs for the very first time.
McDonough knows what that's like; he's has had his German shepherd, Bailey, for four years and it has made a tremendous difference in his life.
"Bailey not only changed my life, she saved my life," McDonough told KHQ.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit www.shepherdsforlostsheepinc.org or call 509-697-0496 or 1-888-234-2319.