Bill White: Troubled veterans are paired with service dogs. 'This guy's my world'
The Morning Call
October 27, 2018
“Many of our veterans have difficulty engaging in treatment due to challenges with verbal processing, anxiety, isolation, etc. In a sentence, you have helped veterans become ‘unstuck’ and offered hope for a better future.” Laura Fahringer of the Coatesville VA
Harold Siegfried and his service dog Phelan (center) meet Oct. 14 with Lt. Col. Mark Phelan's widow, Brenda (right), her daughter April Chau and granddaughters Cora (far left) and Ada. (Harold Siegfried/Contributed photo)Harold Siegfried was volunteering at ArtsQuest’s Christkindlmarkt two years ago, accompanied by his service dog, Phelan.
Siegfried and Phelan were brought together by Tails of Valor, Paws of Honor, a nonprofit program that trains service dogs to interact with and become companions for veterans who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and physical disabilities.
All the dogs, rescued from area animal shelters as puppies and trained for on average 18 months, are named for military personnel who were killed in action or who committed suicide after returning home. Phelan was named for Lt. Col. Mark Phelan, who was killed in 2004 by a car bomb in Iraq.
A man who was visiting from East Norriton, Montgomery County, approached Siegfried that day and asked about his dog, a black Lab mix. Siegfried began telling him about the program and that each dog was named for a fallen serviceman or servicewoman.
When he told the man that his dog was named after Lt. Col. Mark Phelan, the man dropped to his knees and began crying.
“What did I say?” Siegfried asked the man’s wife.
“That was his brother,” she replied.
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