Memorial Day Special: Be Connected, Therapy Dogs, Vetdrenaline


TED SIMONS: COMING UP NEXT, A SPECIAL MEMORIAL DAY EDITION OF ARIZONA HORIZON. WE'LL LOOK AT A PROGRAM THAT CONNECTS VETERANS WITH MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES. WE WILL HIT THE RACETRACK WHERE VETERANS GET AN ADRENALINE RUSH TO COPE WITH PTSD. AND MAN'S BEST FRIEND IS ON HAND HELPING VETERANS WITH ALL SORTS OF TASKS. THOSE STORIES AND MORE, NEXT ON THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF ARIZONA HORIZON.
VOICEOVER: ARIZONA HORIZON IS MADE POSSIBLE WITH THE SUPPORT OF ARIZONA HIGHWAY MAGAZINES, ESCAPE, EXPLORE, EXPERIENCE. AND BY APS WORKING 24/7 TO KEEP ARIZONA ON, AND BY THE CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF 8. MEMBERS OF YOUR ARIZONA PBS STATION.
TED SIMONS: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF ARIZONA HORIZON. I'M TED SIMONS. IT'S MEMORIAL DAY AND WE THOUGHT WE WOULD LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE STORIES WE COVERED THIS YEAR, FOCUSED ON VETERANS AND VETERAN SERVICES. FIRST UP THE ‘BE CONNECTED’ PROGRAM WHICH OFFERS MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT AND RESOURCES FOR VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES. WE TALK WITH WANDA WRIGHT, THE DIRECTOR OF THE VETERAN SERVICES AND DANA KENNEDY FROM ARIZONA AARP WHICH CONNECTED BE CONNECTED WITH ITS MEMBERS. THANK YOU BOTH FOR BE HERE. GIVE ME A BETTER DEFINITION OF BE CONNECTED.
WANDA WRIGHT: IT'S A PROGRAM THAT'S GOOD FOR VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES. THE IDEA IS WE CAN RESOURCE ANY OF THOSE INDIVIDUALS TO PROVIDE RESOURCES EARLY, BEFORE SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAPPENS DOWN THE ROAD, AND HOPELESSNESS, YOU KNOW, HAPPENS.
TED SIMONS: SO BASICALLY CONNECTING VETS, FAMILY MEMBERS AND SUCH TO SERVICES?
WANDA WRIGHT: YES.
TED SIMONS: IS IT JUST THAT SIMPLE REALLY?
WANDA WRIGHT: IT'S THAT SIMPLE. IT'S VERY SIMPLE CONCEPT.
TED SIMONS: AND HOW HAS IT BEEN GOING SO FAR?
DANA KENNEDY: WE MET A MONTH AGO AND SHE WAS TELLING ME ABOUT THE BE CONNECTED PROGRAM. WE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE FAMILY CAREGIVERS AND NOT PART OF CONNECTING VETERANS TO SERVICES BECAUSE SOMETIMES THE VETERAN MAY NOT REACH OUT FOR HELP, BUT IT'S THE FAMILY THAT NOTICES THAT THEY NEED IT. SO WE ARE WORKING TO EDUCATE OUR MEMBERS, SPECIFICALLY TARGETING FAMILY CAREGIVERS TO MAKE SURE THEY KNOW ABOUT THIS PROGRAM.
TED SIMONS: THREE PARTS OF THE PROGRAM, 24/7 IS A PORT LINE THAT ANYONE CAN CALL, NO QUESTIONS ASKED, CORRECT?
DANA KENNEDY: YES.
WANDA WRIGHT: CALL IS THE BIG PROPONENT OF THIS PROGRAM.
TED SIMONS: YES.
DANA KENNEDY: YES.
TED SIMONS: AND ALSO AS YOU KIND OF REFER TO, THERE'S A MATCHING TOOL TO FIND THE RIGHT RESOURCES.
WANDA WRIGHT: CORRECT. YES.
TED SIMONS: SO I'M A VETERAN AND I HAVE X, Y, AND Z CONCERNS. WHAT HAPPENS?
WANDA WRIGHT: YOU PUT YOUR PROFILE INTO THE NETWORK AND IT WILL BRING UP TO 200 PLUS CRITERIA, AND THEN BASED ON THOSE CRITERIA, IT WILL DRIVE YOU TOWARDS THE CORRECT RESOURCES. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE A VETERAN. IT CAN BE A FAMILY MEMBER. ANYONE WHO IS TRYING TO SUPPORT A VETERAN OR SERVICE MEMBER CAN GO ON TO THAT WEBSITE.
TED SIMONS: AARP IS INVOLVED HERE. HOW DID THAT GET STARTED?
DANA KENNEDY: IT WAS ACTUALLY A MEETING.
WANDA WRIGHT: IT WAS.
DANA KENNEDY: BUT I HAD WORKED WITH CONGRESSWOMAN'S CINEMA'S OFFICE. I KNEW HOW IMPORTANT THE NAVIGATOR PIECE WAS. WHEN SHE TOLD ME THEY HAD 3,000 TRAINED NAVIGATORS, MY EYES LIT UP. THIS IS WHAT WE NEED TO DO, TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT THESE NAVIGATORS THAT CAN HELP THE VETERANS NAVIGATE A BUREAUCRACY.
TED SIMONS: AND PART OF THIS PROGRAM, YOU HAVE TO TRAIN THESE NAVIGATORS.
WANDA WRIGHT: WE DO. WE HAVE ONLINE AND IN-PERSON TRAINING. ANYTHING FROM PEER SUPPORT, SUICIDE PREVENTION, ALL THE WAY TO EDUCATING EMPLOYEES AND HOW TO TREAT THE VETERANS WHEN THEY ARE EMPLOYED BY THEM. IT'S A MYRIAD OF TRAINING.
TED SIMONS: THE IDEA OF EMBEDDING SOMEONE WITHIN CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE LIFE OF A VET OR A VET'S FAMILY, THAT'S IMPORTANT TO GET THAT INFORMATION OUT THERE QUICKLY SO THE SERVICES CAN RESPOND.
DANA KENNEDY: EXACTLY. EXACTLY AND WORKING WITH FAMILY CAREGIVERS SO THEY CAN IDENTIFY WHAT SERVICES THEY ARE ELIGIBLE FOR. THE ELIGIBLE PART IS REALLY CONFUSING. AND IF WE CAN MAKE SURE THAT THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE ELIGIBLE FOR, ESPECIALLY THE FAMILY CAREGIVERS SO THEY CAN GET RESPITE SERVICES. BECAUSE FAMILY CAREGIVERS BURN OUT. SO THE PARTNERSHIP THAT WE ARE DOING IS ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL. SO WE ARE DOING A TELETOWN HALL ON FRIDAY. WE ARE GOING TO CALL ABOUT 8,000 AARP MEMBERS, AND THE MEMBERS THAT WE DON'T REACH, WE ARE FULLY -- I HAVE ALREADY PRERECORDED A MESSAGE SPECIFICALLY LETTING THEM KNOW ABOUT THE BE CONNECTED PROGRAM.
TED SIMONS: YEAH.
DANA KENNEDY: AND TO CALL THE NUMBER OR GO TO THE WEBSITE.
TED SIMONS: NOW, PLEASE.
WANDA WRIGHT: I DON'T THINK PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT ABOUT 60% OF OUR VETERAN POPULATION IS OVER 60. 60%.
TED SIMONS: YEAH. YEAH. AND GETTING MORE ALL THE TIME.
WANDA WRIGHT: YES.
TED SIMONS: THE BABY BOOMERS ARE GETTING THERE, AREN'T THEY? YES. WITH THAT IN MIND, AARP IS INVOLVED. HOW DO OTHER ORGANIZATIONS -- ARE OTHER ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED AND IF THEY ARE INTERESTED HEARING THIS, HOW DO THEY GET INVOLVED?
WANDA WRIGHT: WE HAVE MANY OTHER ORGANIZATIONS. WELL, THE NATIONAL GUARD, TRIWEST, AHCCCS AND A LOT OF OTHER PARTNERS THAT WE HAVE THAT ARE HELPING US WITH PEER SUPPORT AND NAVIGATION. AND THEY CAN CALL OUR NUMBER AT DEPARTMENT OF VETERAN SERVICES. WE HAVE A WEBSITE OUT THIS THAT THEY CAN CLICK ON THE BE CONNECTED PROGRAM.
TED SIMONS: MM-HMM.
WANDA WRIGHT: AND YOU CAN ALSO LEARN INFORMATION THROUGH THE NUMBER, WHICH IS 1-866-4AZ-VETS.
TED SIMONS: 1-866-4-AZ-VETS.
WANDA WRIGHT: AND THEY CAN CALL THAT NUMBER AND GET INFORMATION.
TED SIMONS: YOU ARE GOING TO BE DOING GREAT WORK.
DANA KENNEDY: WE ARE.
WANDA WRIGHT: IT'S A GREAT PARTNERSHIP.
TED SIMONS: GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE. GOOD LUCK WITH THE PROGRAM.
WANDA WRIGHT: THANK YOU SO MUCH.
DANA KENNEDY: THANK YOU.
TED SIMONS: THE MILITARY ACKNOWLEDGES THE NUMBER OF VETERANS SUFFERING FROM POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER IS AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL IN HISTORY. THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERAN AFFAIRS SAYS 30% OF VIETNAM VETERANS EXPERIENCED PTSD ALONG WITH 20% OF THOSE WHO SERVED IN IRAQ. PRODUCER SHANA FISCHER AND PHOTOGRAPHER JUAN MAGANA, INTRODUCE US TO A COUPLE, WHO DECIDE TO HELP VETERANS GET THEIR LIVES BACK WITH A LITTLE BIT OF HELP FROM THEIR BEST FRIEND.
SHANA FISCHER:OBEDIENCE CLASS IS A LOT LIKE BOOT CAMP.
NAT: AND THEN YOU WILL TAKE TURNS WALKING YOUR DOG AROUND THE OTHER DOG.
SHANA FISCHER ORDERS ARE GIVEN.
NAT: STAY.
SHANA FISCHER AND EVERYONE DOES THEIR BEST TO FOLLOW THEM.
NAT: SIT. GOOD JOB.
SHANA FISCHER: THE OUTCOME, BE READY FOR BATTLE, BUT FOR THESE FOUR-LEGGED SOLDIERS, THE BATTLE THEY ARE HELPING TO FIGHT IS MILES AWAY FROM A WAR ZONE.
RYAN NEWMAN: WHEN I WAS IN IRAQ, I DID A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING. I WAS THE SWISS ARMY KNIFE.
SHANA FISCHER: RYAN NEWMAN ENLISTED IN THE ARMY, GUNG HO TO SERVE HIS COUNTRY.
RYAN NEWMAN: WHEN A HELICOPTER GOT SHOT DOWN, WE WERE THE FIRST ONES TO SECURE THE AREA. WE WOULD DO THE BODY CLEANUPS, THAT TYPE OF THING.
SHANA FISCHER: ONCE HE RETURNED HOME, YEARS OF FIREFIGHTERS AND WATCHING HIS BEST FRIENDS GET KILLED, BEGAN TO TAKE A PROFOUND TOLL ON HIM.
RYAN NEWMAN: I UNDERSTAND VIOLENCE AND WAR. I DON'T UNDERSTAND – I COULDN'T UNDERSTAND THIS LIFE ANYMORE.
SHANA FISCHER: RYAN WITH DREW FROM HIS FAMILY. HE WOULDN'T LEAVE THE HOUSE. HE COULDN'T.
RYAN NEWMAN: I WOULD GO TO THE STORE AND HAVE BREAKDOWNS. I WOULD START CRYING. PELL WOULD TOUCH MY CART AND IWOULD WANT TO FIGHT THEM OR LEAVE.
SHANA FISCHER: DOCTORS AT THE V.A. PUT HIM ON PILLS FOR THE PAIN AND THE DEPRESSION. BUT TO THE PILLS HE TOOK EVERY DAY LEFT HIM FEELING NUMB AND DETACHED. JANNA, RYAN'S WIFE SAYS HER ONCE HAPPY GO LUCKY HUSBAND WAS GONE.
JANNA NEWMAN: HE JUST WASN'T THERE. IT WAS KIND OF A SHELL OF WHO HE WAS. YOU KNOW, YOU TRY TO SEE SOMETHING, BUT HE JUST NEVER CAME HOME.
SHANA FISCHER: RYAN'S FEELING OF ISOLATED AND HELPLESSNESS JUST GOT WORSE AND WORSE.
RYAN NEWMAN: I WAS DRIVING HOME FROM WORK ONE DAY, AND I JUST HIT A LOW POINT AND I TOOK MY SEATBELT OFF AND THIS WAS A SEMI TRUCK COMING AND I WAS GOING TO DRIVE INTO IT. MY WIFE AND KIDS WOULD BE BETTER OFF BECAUSE I WAS SO SCREWED UP. AND I DIDN'T WANT TO MESS MY KIDS UP. SO I JUST THOUGHT THEY WOULD BE BETTER UP IF I WAS DEAD.
SHANA FISCHER: DESPERATE FOR HIS LIFE, RYAN READ ABOUT SERVICE DOGS AND THOUGHT HE MIGHT FIND RELIEF. HE CONNECTED WITH THE AMERICAN SERVICE ANIMAL SOCIETY IN GILBERT.
JERRY: THERE IS AN AMAZING TRANSFORATION FROM THE VETERANS WHEN THEY FIRST WALK IN, TO WHEN THEY WALK OUT WITH THEIR DOG.
SHANA FISCHER: JERRY AND HIS WIFE DEBBIE FOUNDED THIS. JARROD IS A DISABLED VETERAN HIMSELF.
JERRY: WE HELP DISABLED VETERANS TRAIN THEIR OWN DOGS. THAT KEY POINT. TRAIN THEIR OWN DOGS TO HELP THEM WITH POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER, MOBILITY DISORDERS AND MANY, MANY UNSEEN DISABILITIES.
SHANA FISCHER: THE YEAR-LONG TRAINING IS OFFERED AT NO COST TO THE VETERANS. THE FIRST 20 WEEKS ARE SPENT LEARNING BASIC OBEDIENCE AND THEN TASK TRAINING.
JERRY: WE HAVE STEPS AND LIGHTS THAT THEY CAN PRACTICE TURNING ON AND OFF. THE REFRIGERATOR.
SHANA FISCHER: A LARGE PART IS DEVOTING TO RECOGNIZING AND DEALING WITH THE SYMPTOMS OF PTSD, LIKE ANXIETY.
JERRY: THE DOG WILL SMELL THE BODY CHEMISTRY CHANGE AND WILL START TO HELP THE VETERAN AND WE JUST TEACH THE DOG HOW TO INTERACT WITH THE VETERAN.
SHANA FISCHER: ANOTHER PTSD SYMPTOM THESE FRIENDS HELP, WITH A FEAR OF INTERACTING WITH PEOPLE.
JERRY: OUR TRAINING CENTER IS ACTUALLY A SAFE HAVEN. A LOT OF VETERANS DON'T WANT TO LEAVE HOME. SO IF THEY ARE GOING TO GO SOMEWHERE, HAVE TO BE SOMEWHERE, WHERE THEY FEEL SAFE.
PAUL ROBINSON: I WAS THREE-QUARTERS OF WAY AROUND THE WORLD AND I WOULD DO IT AGAIN IN A HEART BEAT.
SHANA FISCHER: DURING THE 1970s PAUL ROBINSON SERVED IN THE NAVY ABOARD AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER. HE POINTS HIS INCIDENT TO AN INCIDENT IN THE PHILIPPINES THAT HE CAN'T BRING HIMSELF TO TALK ABOUT YEARS LATER.
PAUL ROBINSON: I WAS VERY ANGRY. I WAS VERY ANGRY. I COULD SNAP AT THE DROP OF A HAT. I JOINED THE NAVY TO FIGHT FOR MY COUNTRY BUT THEY DIDN'T PROTECT ME.
SHANA FISCHER: PAUL TOO WAS ON THE VERGE OF ENDING HIS LIFE.
PAUL ROBINSON: I WROTE MY OWN OBITUARY. AND MY WIFE WAS READING IT FIRST THING IN THE MORNING ON OUR FOURTH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY. JUST AS THE POLICE WAS KNOCKING ON THE DOOR TO COME AND MAKE SURE I WAS OKAY.
SHANA FISCHER: PAUL'S COUNSELOR TOLD HIM ABOUT AMERICAN SERVICE ANIMAL SOCIETY. HE CREDITS HIS STANDARD POODLES RUSTY AND OPIE FOR BRINGING HIM OUT OF THE DARKNESS.
PAUL ROBINSON: I CANNOT TELL YOU ENOUGH HOW MUCH THIS HAS CHANGED MY LIFE BECAUSE I'M SITTING HERE TALKING TO YOU. BECAUSE OF THEIR LOVE, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, I'M NOT HALF AS ANGRY AS I USED TO BE. THAT'S HOW MUCH HAS CHANGED MY LIFE!
SHANA FISCHER: RYAN FEELS THE SAME WAY ABOUT GUS. RYAN CALLS THE GIANT SCHNAUZER HIS BATTLE BUDDY.
RYAN NEWMAN: BUT MY LIFE IS NORMAL AS IT CAN BE. I'M ABLE TO GO TO THE STORE. I TAKE GUS WITH ME.
SHANA FISCHER: BUT THE PTSD, LIKE A SHADOW, IS ALWAYS LURKING IN THE BACKGROUND. RYAN FIGHTS HARD TO KEEP IT AT BAY. HE NO LONGER NEEDS THOSE 20 PILLS. HE JUST NEEDS GUS. GUS HAS MADE LIFE EASIER FOR THE COUPLE'S FOUR CHILDREN FOR THE PTSD EFFECTS ON THEIR DAD.
JENNA NEWMAN: NOW WITH GUS, WE CAN GO PLACES. WE CAN'T GO PLACES LIKE A LOT OF PEOPLE DO, BUT WE DO MORE AS A FAMILY THAN WE USED TO BE. EVEN THOUGH IT'S NOT PERFECT, IT'S OUR PERFECT. I JUST LOVE IT. HE'S MY WINGMAN. I DEPEND ON HIM JUST LIKE HE DOES, JUST IN A DIFFERENT WAY. HE TRULY IS A MIRACLE. HE'S A LIFESAVER.
SHANA FISCHER: AND THAT'S THE MISSION OF THE ORGANIZATION, DEALING WITH THE FOG OF WAR SO THAT THE MEMORIES THAT ARE TOO HORRIBLE TO SPEAK OF, THE WOUNDS WE DON'T SEE EVENTUALLY CAN HEAL.
PAUL ROBINSON: WE WANT VETERAN TO REGAIN THE THINGS THAT THEY HAD BEFORE. WE WANT THEM TO HAVE THEIR LIFE BACK. WE WANT THEM TO SHARE OTHER PEOPLE. WE WANT THEM TO JUST BE ABLE TO BECOME PART OF THE COMMUNITY AGAIN.
TED SIMONS: WHEN WE COME BACK, WE WILL TALK ABOUT SOME NEW HOUSING OPTIONS FOR VETERANS AND WE WILL INTRODUCE YOU TO AN ORGANIZATION THAT HONORS VETERANS BY REVVING UP THEIR MOTORCYCLES! THAT'S NEXT ON THIS SPECIAL MEMORIAL DAY EDITION OF ARIZONA HORIZON.
TED SIMONS: THE PATRIOT GUARD RIDERS ARE A GROUP OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO SHOW THEIR RESPECT FOR MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY PAST AND PRESENT. THE COMPANY'S MAIN MISSION IS TO SURROUND FLAG LIVES AS THEY BURY LOVED ONES.THE GROUP'S ROLE HAS EXPANDS AS THE COMMUNITY GROUPS HAVE ASKED TO BEAR WITNESS OF DEDICATION CEREMONIES AND PARADES PRODUCER ALLYSA ADAMS SPOKE WITH SOME OF THEM AS THEY SHOW THEIR MEMBERSHIP IN THIS MOTORCYCLE GROUP.
ALLYSA ADAMS: SOMETIMES A SIMPLE ACT CAN SAY A LOT. FOR THE PATRIOT GUARD RIDERS, JUST STANDING.
NAT: WE PROTECTED THIS GROUND.
ALLYSA ADAMS SOMETIMES FOR HOURS ON END.
NAT: A MOMENT OF PERSONAL SILENCE.
ALLYSA ADAMS IS HUGE.
TOM BURNS: WE DO COMMUNITY EVENTS THAT ARE VETERAN OR FIRST RESPONDER FRIENDLY AND TRY TO GET ACROSS HOW IMPORTANT OUR VETERANS AND FIRST RESPONDERS AND ACTIVE DUTY TO OUR COUNTRY.
ALLYSA ADAMS: IT BEGAN IN 2005 AT THE WAKE OF PROTESTS AT SOLDIERS' FUNERALS BY A RELIGIOUS GROUP.
TOM BURNS: THEY FORMED THE PATRIOT GUARD RIDERS. THEY WOULD FORM FLAG LINES AND USE THEIR MOTORCYCLES TO MAKE NOISE TO DROWN THEM OUT SO THE FAMILIES COULD MOURN AND HONOR THEIR LOVED ONES.
ALLYSA ADAMS: THAT MOVE TO PROTECT FAMILIES OF SOLDIERS STARTED A MISSION WRAPPED IN CONTRADICTIONS. IT'S A RIDING GROUP, BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO COME WITH A BIKE.
MIKE SULLIVAN: WE DON'T CARE WHAT YOU RIDE. YOU CAN DRIVE, WALK, AS LONG AS YOU GET THERE AND YOU WANT TO STAND THERE AND HOLD A FLAG OR SIT THERE AND HOLD A FLAG, WE WOULD LIKE YOU TO COME AND JOIN US.
ALLYSA ADAMS: THEY HONOR FIRST RESPONDERS, ACTIVE DUTY PERSONNEL AND VETERANS FROM ALL BRANCHES BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A VET TO STAND IN ONE OF THEIR FLAG LINES.
TOM BURNS: MANY OF THE FOLKS THAT WE HAVE INVOLVED, MANY OF OUR LEADERSHIP ARE NONVETERANS. THEY DIDN'T GET AN OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE. THEY ARE SERVING NOW BECAUSE OF THEIR DEEP RESPECT FOR WHAT THEY ARE GIVEN, BECAUSE OF THOSE WHO SERVED.
MIKE SULLIVAN: I'M NOT A VETERAN. I HAVE MY FATHER WHO WAS A NAVY VETERAN AND MY UNCLES WERE ALL VETERANS AND MY GRANDFATHER IS A VETERAN. I HAVE A REAL RESPECT FOR THEM.
TOM BURNS: WE DON'T HAVE ANY POLITICAL AFFILIATION. OUR ONLY AFFILIATION IS OUR DEEP RESPECT FOR THE PEOPLE WE SERVE.
MIKE SULLIVAN: I THINK IT'S A VERY INTERESTING MIX, BECAUSE WE'RE REALLY NONPOLITICAL. EVERYBODY HERE IS -- WE ARE NOT HERE FOR OURSELVES. WE ARE HERE TO BE THERE FOR THE FAMILIES AND TO STAND FOR THOSE VETERANS.
NAT: AND THEY SACRIFICE ONCE AGAIN.
ALLYSA ADAMS: THE GROUP RIDES TO WHEREVER THEY ARE CALLED. THE ARIZONA GUARD IS CALLED DOZENS OF TIMES A MONTH TO MEMORIAL SERVICES, COMMUNITY EVENTS AND FUNERALS.
TOM BURNS: WE ONLY RESPOND TO REQUESTS. WE NEVER INVITE OURSELVES. IF A FAMILY REQUESTS US, OR AN ORGANIZATION REQUESTS US, WE WILL -- WE WILL RESPOND TO THAT, AND SEE IF IT CALLS WITHIN OUR MISSION STATEMENT.
NAT: THANK YOU FOR COMING.
ALLYSA ADAMS: BEFORE EVERY SERVICE, THEY HAVE A RITUAL.
NAT: WE WILL PUT THE SERVICE FLAGS OUTSIDE.
ALLYSA ADAMS: THEY JOIN TOGETHER AND PLAY A SONG TO REMIND THEM OF THEIR MISSION.
NAT: AS WE ALWAYS DO.
ALLYSA ADAMS: IT'S NOT ALWAYS AN EASY TASK.
MIKE SULLIVAN: I THINK FOR ME, WHEN YOU SEE YOUR -- YOU ARE SEEING A FAMILY AT ITS WORST TIME, WHEN THEY HAVE LOST A LOVED ONE, AND IF THE PATRIOT GUARD CAN BRING JUST THAT MUCH HELP TO THOSE FAMILIES TO GET THROUGH THAT AWFUL DAY –
NAT: I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG.
MIKE SULLIVAN: THEN TO ME, THAT'S WORTH IT. THAT'S WHAT I SEE THE PATRIOT GUARD DOING FOR THESE FAMILIES TO HONOR AND RESPECT THEIR LOVED ONES SERVICE AND TO STAND THERE WITH THE FLAG AND SHOW THEM THEY WILL NOT FORGET THEIR SERVICE TO THIS COUNTRY.
TOM BURNS: I THINK THERE'S AN ADMIRATION. IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE WE ALWAYS -- WE ALWAYS KIND OF JOKED THAT OUR PAY IS ALWAYS -- OUR PAY IS ALWAYS COMMISERATE TO THE FILLINGS THAT WE GET FROM DOING WHAT WE DO. THERE'S NOTHING BETTER THAN TO HAVE THAT FEELING FROM THE FAMILY WHEN THEY COME UP AND JUST A SIMPLE THANK YOU.
ALLYSA ADAMS: THE GUARD UNDERSTANDS THAT PATRIOTS COME WEARING A LOT OF DIFFERENT UNIFORMS. SOME A LITTLE MORE ROAD WORN THAN OTHERS.
TOM BURNS: MANY OF THESE FOLKS WERE LOOKING FOR SOMETHING TO DO. THEY RIDE. THEY ARE RETIRED. THEY WANT SOMETHING HONOR LABEL NO DO, SOMETHING THAT WILL FILL THEIR DAYS AND THEN THEY FIND THAT THEIR DAYS ARE VERY FILLED.
ALLYSA ADAMS THE ONLY REQUIREMENT FOR MEMBERSHIP IS RESPECT. ILLUSTRATED BY A SIMPLE ACT. JUST STANDING.
TOM BURNS: THEY STAND FLAG LINES SOMETIMES FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS. AND THEY ONLY DO IT FOR ONE REASON. THEY DO IT BECAUSE THEY KNOW THAT THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHY WE ARE ABLE TO EXIST AS A FREE NATION. BECAUSE OF OUR VETERANS AND OUR FIRST RESPONDERS AND THE ACTIVE DUTY SOLDIERS CURRENTLY SERVING.
TED SIMONS: THE GUARD ONLY TAKES PART IN EVENTS THEY ARE INVITED TO ATTEND BY FAMILY MEMBERS OR QUALIFIED SPOKESPERSONS. THE ARIZONA PATRIOT GUARD IS INVITED TO AN AVERAGE OF A DOZEN EVENTS EVERY WEEK.
TED SIMONS: THERE'S A NEW AND ENCOURAGING TREATMENT FOR SOME SOLDIERS SUFFERING FROM PTSD. IT'S CALLED THERAPEUTIC ADRENALINE, AND THE IDEA IS TO OFFER SOLDIERS THE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE HIGH ADRENALINE RUSH THEY MAY HAVE RECEIVED IN COMBAT, BUT THIS TIME, IN A CONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT. PRODUCER AMANDA SLEE TAKES US TO THE TRACK WHERE VETERANS WITH PTSD GET A WILD RIDE AND MAYBE A CHANCE TO HEAL.
JESS MANEY: 2009, I WAS WOUNDED IN COMBAT AND BASED ON MY RECOVERY, I FOUND I WAS MISSING SOMETHING THROUGH ALL THE GREAT THINGS THAT THE MEDICAL INDUSTRY DOES FOR US. THERE WAS A PIECE THAT WAS MISSING AND I FOUND THE ADRENALINE RUSH IN MOTOR SPORTS. THERE ARE TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF RACES, LIKE THE EVENT YOU ARE AT HERE TODAY.
JOANNA SWEATT: I WAS INTRODUCED TO VET DRENILINE. I SERVED IN THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS FOR JUST UNDER 10 YEARS. I DEPLOYED IN OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM IN 2003. I EXITED THE MARINE CORPS IN 2007. AND SINCE THAT TIME, I JUST HAD A LOT OF DIFFERENT ISSUES THAT WOULD POP UP HERE AND THERE THAT I WASN'T REALLY ADDRESSING. SPECIFICALLY FOR VETERANS, ADRENALINE AND BEING ABLE TO EXPEND IT OR ARE TAKE PART IN ACTIVITIES THAT ARE FAST PACED, THAT ARE MISSION CRITICAL, IT'S HARD WHEN YOU LOSE THAT. THAT'S WHAT YOU ARE TRAINED TO DO AND THEN WHEN YOU ARE DONE, YOU ARE KIND OF SITTING STILL IN THE REGULAR WORLD AND NO JOB HAS THAT UP TEMPO. SO YOU MISS THAT A LOT. I CAN'T EXPLAIN THE FEELING AND ONLY USUALLY OTHER VETERANS WHEN I TALK TO, THEY UNDERSTAND THAT MISSING PIECE AND THAT MISSING ELEMENT.
JESS MANEY: WELL, MOST DISABLED VETERANS SUFFER FROM PTSD OR ANXIETY DISORDER. SOMETIMES THAT'S ADRENALINE RUSH BRINGS US BACK TO THE FEELS THAT WE HAD OVERSEAS, BUT IN A CONTROLLED, POSITIVE WAY. THE OTHER THING THAT THEY MISS IS THE CAMARADERIE ASPECT. WE SAY THIS IS A FAMILY. WE DON'T EVEN CALL OURSELVES A VETERAN ON A TEAM. WE CALL OURSELVES A FAMILY.
JOANNA SWEATT: IT HELPS YOU ADDRESS THE THINGS THAT YOU MISS FROM SERVICE, LIKE TEAM WORK, CAMARADERIE AND THAT ADRENALINE AND HAVING A MISSION AND MOVING FORWARD AND DOING SOMETHING THAT CIVILIAN LIFE JUST CAN'T FILL THE GAP.
JESS MANEY: SO THE CARS THAT YOU SEE ME ARE ALL PRO AM LEVEL DRIFT DRIVERS THAT DO THIS ON A COMPETITIVE LEVEL AND THEY ARE DONATING OUR TIME AND ENERGY TO HELP OUR VETERANS FEEL THAT RUSH OF ADRENALINE THAT WE NEED.
JESSE ROBLES: THERE'S A LOT OF RACE CAR ELEMENTS, YOU KNOW? IT'S THE FREESTYLE FORM OF MOTOR SPORTS. SO IT'S RACING, YOU KNOW, BUT NOT -- WELL, IT'S LIKE -- IT'S AN ARTISTIC FORM OF MOTOR SPORTS.
JOANNA SWEATT: I WAS SCARED, BECAUSE I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF WHIPPING A CAR AROUND BUT WHEN YOU GET IN IT, IT'S LITERALLY LIKE -- IT'S SO AWESOME. YOU ARE FLOATING AND IT'S SO FAST, AND IT'S LIKE EVERYTHING IN YOUR BODY IS JUST GOING OFF AND OBVIOUSLY I'M NOT TRYING TO DO ANYTHING, BUT IT'S LIKE YOU ARE COMPETITIVE. YOU ARE RACING, AND SO THAT'S FUN.
JESS MANEY: NO SO THESE DRIVERS IN THEIR COMPETITIONS ARE BASED OFF THEIR POINT BASE. TURNING POINT AND HOW CLOSE THEY CAN GET TO EACH OTHER. YOU SEE THE LEVEL OF ADVANCEMENT AND HOW CLOSE THEY CAN COME TO EACH OTHER AND WHOIS IN FULL CONTROL.
JESSE ROBLES: THE THREE I GOT TO TAKE WERE NEVER IN A DRIFT CAR BEFORE AND COMPLETE HISTORY CHANGED THEIR MIND THEM HAD NO IDEA 9 SPEEDS WE GOT UP TO, THE ANGLE AND THE TIRE SMOKE AND THE HORSEPOWER AND EVERYTHING, THE WHOLE COMBINATION WAS AMAZING.
JOANNA SWEATT: EVERYBODY SHOULD GET INVOLVED IN ACTIVITIES LIKE THIS AND GETTING OUT AND HAVING FUN AND COMMUNITY AND ACTUALLY GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER SO THAT WE CAN DO IT. WE ARE NOT ALL SUFFERING. WE ARE JUST LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO BE A PART OF.
TED SIMONS: THE NEXT VETDRENELINE EVENT WILL BE A DESERT CHALLENGE ON OCTOBER 12th IN LAUGHLIN.
TED SIMONS: TOMORROW, ON ARIZONA HORIZON WE'LL TALK TO THE NEW SCOTTSDALE ARTS DIRECTOR AND WE'LL TALK ABOUT HOW DACA COLLEGE STUDENTS ARE COPING WITH THEIR IN-STATE TUITION. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF ARIZONA HORIZON. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.
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During our special Memorial Day episode, “Arizona Horizon” looks back on some of the stories covered involving helping veterans including the Be Connected program, therapy dogs and Vetdrenaline.

Be Connected program matches vets with mental health resources

In late February we spoke with the Director of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Service Wanda Wright and Arizona Director for AARP Dana Kennedy about the Be Connected program. The program has been active for about a year now, and has successfully matched over 1,200 veterans, service members and their families with mental health services.

“It’s a suicide program that benefits veterans, service members and their families,” says Wanda Wright, director of Arizona Department of Veteran Services. “The idea is that we can resource any of those individuals to provide resources early before something terrible happens down the road and hopelessness happens.”

American Service Animal Society helps veterans overcome PTSD

Dogs have claimed the title “man’s best friend” for a reason. Not only are they fun to play with, but they’re intelligent enough to look over their owner’s health and provide them with daily assistance. Through the American Service Animal Society, veterans are able to be paired with a dog that’s best suited to help them. We talk to the founder and veterans about how the dogs changed their lives.

“There is an amazing transformation from the veterans from the first time they walk into the training center to the time they walk out with their dog,” says Gerad Claseman, Navy veteran and founder of the American Service Animal Society.

Vetdrenaline Racing provides a different kind of therapy for vets with PTSD

“Arizona Horizon” took to the race track in April to meet with the founder of Vetdrenaline and talk to veterans about how the thrill of an adrenaline rush is able to help them manage their PTSD. Not only does it supply vets with that rush, but it’s a place where they can regain the sense of camaraderie.

“It helps you address the things you miss from the service like teamwork, camaraderie and that adrenaline of having a mission and moving forward and doing something,” Marine veteran Joanna Sweatt says. “Civilian life just can’t fill the gap.”

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