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VOL. 2/ISSUE 17

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2014

Detective vets have got each other’s backs Mary Kemper staff writer

mkemper@veteranvoiceweekly.com

Staff photo by Mary Kemper Indian River County Sheriff’s Office detectives Christopher Anderson, left, and John Finnegan share a close bond as partners and as veterans. “That’s how it is, in the military,” Anderson says. “And that’s how it is with us now.” They give the impression they are two halves of the same coin,

in many ways. They finish each other’s sentences. They look at each other often, as if to make sure what they’re trying to get across is put in the right way.

There is an easiness between them. Their differences add up to

See DETECTIVES page 6

Should the Pentagon reduce troop levels? Send your thoughts to: info@veteranvoiceweekly.com 9237

In the department, they’re known either as “SuperFin” and “SuperFly,” or, simply, the combination “Fin Anderson.” They’re Indian River County Sheriff’s Department detectives Chris Anderson and John Finnegan. They’re both veterans – and they’re partners. For them, that makes for a unique bond that non-vets will never know. Det. Christopher Anderson, 32, and Det. John Finnegan, 29, have been deputies for six years. Their official assignment is in General Crimes – running the gamut from domestic issues to drugs to homicide – but their specialty is gangs, and all the challenging crime-combating that goes with it. Between them, it’s a safe bet to say they’ve seen it all. They risk their lives every day, just as they did when they served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both, though, say their military training and service gave them an edge others don’t have, in dealing with the worst of human behavior. And each, in his own way, is as strongly committed to serving others now, in much the same way, as they did in the wars. “Oh, we bash each other,” Finnegan says, shooting a grin at his partner. “But we have built camaraderie.”


2 • FEBRUARY 28, 2014 • VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE

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Veteran Voice is a weekly publication designed to provide information to and about veterans to veterans and to the broader community. Veterans are an integral part of their Florida communities, which currently have individual organizations of their own, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Vietnam Veterans of America and many other groups with a narrow focus, but no convenient way to connect to a wider population of veterans and to the community in general within a limited geographic area, their community. The mission of Veteran Voice is to publish a weekly source of information that will provide, in one place, a listing of resources available to veterans, articles about changes in policies or organizations affecting veterans and events of interest to veterans as well as articles about veterans of interest to the general public. Veteran Voice LLC is organized as a partnership of experienced newspaper executives with an interest in veterans and in the communities of Florida veterans and friends. Veteran Voice is a start-up intended to address a perceived lack of information readily available to veterans on programs and policies affecting them and objective reporting of veteran affairs to the public. To our knowledge, and based on comments from leaders of local veterans organizations, there was no media or website currently meeting this need until the launch of Veteran Voice. We hope you agree, and will support this publication with your subscription. Without subscriptions there will be a limited number of people we can help, without which this mission will not be realized. As part of our commitment to supporting local veteran communities, we will donate 10 percent of our profits each quarter to qualified veteran charities recommended by you, our readers and subscribers. Please let us know what you think by emailing news@veteranvoiceweekly.com or mailing your comments to us at 1919 S.W. South Macedo Blvd., Port St. Lucie, FL 34984.

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VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE • FEBRUARY 28, 2014 • 3

Photo from Wikimedia Commons If the bill is passed by the Senate and signed by the president, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs will have to “disapprove courses of education provided by a public educational institution that does not charge tuition and fees for veterans at the same rate that is charged for in-state residents, regardless of the veteran’s state of residence.” In other words, if a state won’t give veterans using military-service educational benefits the same tuition rate as residents, the Department of Veterans Affairs won’t pay up.

GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act passes House, referred to Senate For Veteran voice

patrick.mccallister@yahoo.com

It passed the House of Representatives 390-0. Now it’s navigating the Senate. Among those voting for the bill were Democrat Patrick Murphy (FL-18) and Republican Bill Posey (FL-8). The two congressmen represent the Treasure and Space coasts, respectively. “When (service members) come home, I believe it’s a minimum requirement for us to let them go to the state school of their choice,” Murphy told Veteran Voice in a phone interview. That’s the aim behind H.R. 357, the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act. Earlier this month the House passed the bill introduced by Republican Jeff Miller (FL-1). He’s the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Miller introduced the bill along with the committee’s ranking member, Democrat Mike Michaud

of Maine. The bill is in the Senate awaiting its first hearing by its veterans affairs committee. If it’s passed by the Senate and signed by the president, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs will have to “disapprove courses of education provided by a public educational institution that does not charge tuition and fees for veterans at the same rate that is charged for in-state residents, regardless of the veteran’s state of residence.” In other words, if a state won’t give veterans using military-service educational benefits the same tuition rate as residents, the Department of Veterans Affairs won’t pay up. This is likely to get more states scrambling to equalize resident and veteran tuition rates. Twenty already do. Florida’s heading in that direction. The Florida Senate’s Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, chaired by Thad Altman (R-Melbourne), recently unanimously approved the Florida GI Bill, which would equalize

rates in the Sunshine State. According to the Student Veterans of America, Florida is among 12 states that are considering giving all veterans using military-service education benefits in-state tuition. Another eight have waivers for out-of-state vet-

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erans to get in-state tuition. The organization is a chief proponent of the Tuition Fairness Act and state laws equalizing resident and veteran tuition rates. The Student Veterans of Amer-

See TUITION page 5

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4 • FEBRUARY 28, 2014 • VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE

Dogs For Life definite boon for suffering vets Shelly Ferger, foreground, stands in front of the administrative and training center being built at the Dog Park in Vero Beach by Dogs For Life.

Mary Kemper staff writer

mkemper@veteranvoiceweekly.com

Dogs For Life is a “labor of love” for founder and CEO Shelly Ferger — with almost equal emphasis on the “labor” as on the “love.” “It’s definitely been a challenge, that’s for sure,” Ferger said, sweeping an arm to encompass the sprawling Dog Park grounds in Vero Beach. Nearby, a construction crew worked on putting up a building that, one day, will be the main administration and training center for dogs and vets to get to know each other. Many returning vets suffering from PTSD or traumatic brain injury, hearing loss or blindness, can benefit from a relationship with a dog, Ferger said. It’s her aim to be able to help connect every veteran with his or her own dog to help them live happier lives. But it hasn’t been easy for Ferger to fulfill her dream. “It’s been one thing after another,” she said. “Originally, this was the town Dog Park, and Dogs For Life was a separate organization. Now, they’re merged — but it took three years (of effort) to get to that point.” Other problems included purchasing additional land, irriga-

tion issues, construction issues and, of course, funding. Surprisingly, though, in the case of funding, the necessary money has always seemed to show up at the very time it’s needed, Ferger

veteran voice The Voice of Experience

Veteran Voice is a newspaper for veterans, active military, their families and their friends. Veteran Voice is published weekly by Veteran Voice, LLC. 1919 SW South Macedo Blvd., Port St. Lucie, FL 34984 (772) 204-2409 Office • (772) 204-2940 Fax

SUBSCRIBE TODAY $18 YEAR (52 weeks) $12 Veterans or Active Military For more information on distribution and subscriptions of this newspaper, please call our main office (772) 204-2409 or contact us by email at: info@VeteranVoiceWeekly.com POSTAL STATEMENT Veteran Voice (USPS# 9749, ISSN 23302267) is published weekly by Veteran Voice LLC, 1919 SW South Macedo Blvd, Port St Lucie, FL 34984. Periodicals Postage Paid at Ft Pierce, FL POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Veteran Voice, 1919 SW South Macedo Blvd, Port St Lucie, FL 34984

Theodore Wilson Publisher Steve Erlanger Partner Tammy Raits Managing Editor Debbi Denning Advertising Consultant Kelly Delprete Advertising Consultant Mary Kemper Staff Writer/ Marketing Consultant Patrick McCallister Staff Writer Nicole Rodriguez Staff Writer Shelley Koppel Staff Writer Mitch Kloorfain Chief Photographer Eric Macon Graphic Designer Phil Galdys Director of Operations Donna Marinak HR/Accounting Manager

“That dog came over to him, and you could just see the change in him. His face, his body. It was incredible.” Mary “Mim” Dunn past president Dogs for Life said. “When we were really struggling, one anonymous donor sent us $200,000 — and within a week, another $100,000 came in,” she said. “We even have a lady who won the $25 million lotto who donated to us.” There are four main Dogs For Life programs and services: assistance dogs, for those with special needs 24 hours a day; pet-assisted therapy dogs; community outreach programs, including a dog-behavior hotline, dog placement referral program, workshops and obedience classes; and the service dogs for veterans training program. According to literature published by Dogs For Life, there are 231,000 Florida veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Three in 10 will have a service-related disability, and 30 percent will suffer from PTSD. Of that number, 50 percent will not seek treatment. “It’s so important to reach these

veterans,” Ferger said. The range of ways dogs can help vets is astonishing. They include: • Waking up the vet from a nightmare; • Creating a barrier around the vet to allow distance from people in a crowd; • Sitting back-to-back with the vet to alert of approaching people; • Making a perimeter of the home before entering; • Calling a suicide hotline on a special K-9 emergency phone; • Providing a soothing touch when a vet feels emotional overload; • Serving as a vet’s “combat buddy” to provide security and ease loneliness. One veteran whose life has changed for the better is former Army staff sergeant Jim Taylor, who lives in Vero Beach. His dog, a pug named Pia Pia (pronounced “pay-pay”), goes with him every-

See DOGS page 10


VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE • FEBRUARY 28, 2014 • 5

From the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs FOR VETERAN VOICE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 20, 2014 VA Announces Rollout of Secure Veteran Health Identification Cards WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced the phased roll out of newly designed, more secure Veteran Health Identification Cards. The new cards are distinguished by additional security features and will have a different look and feel. In addition to being more secure, the card has been transformed into a Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC). Similar to a typical health insurance card, the VHIC displays the Veteran’s Member ID, a new unique identifier, as well as a Plan ID, reflecting the Veteran’s enrollment in VA health care. “VA is committed to providing high quality health care while ensuring the personal security of Veterans,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “These new identification cards are an important step forward in protecting our nation’s heroes from identity theft and other personal crimes.” The VHIC is personalized to display the emblem of the Veteran’s branch of service. It also provides fea-

TUITION from page 3 ica reports that there are about 900,000 veterans enrolled in colleges. More than half, about 500,000, use the Post-911 GI Bill. George Cecala, spokesman, said Congressman Posey likes bills such as the Tuition Fairness Act. “As Posey says often is what many people don’t know and don’t see is many of the bills in the House are passed with bipartisan support,” he said. “What people read about are major issues that come before

tures that make it easier to use, such as the addition of “VA” in Braille to help visually impaired Veterans, and the printing of VA phone numbers and emergency care instructions on the cards. The card replaces the Veteran Identification Card (VIC), which was introduced in 2004. As part of a phased rollout, starting this month, the card will only be offered to newly enrolled and other Veterans who have not been issued a VIC. Then, in early April, VA will begin a three month effort to automatically issue the more secure VHIC to current VIC cardholders. VA recommends Veterans safeguard their VIC as they would a credit card, and cut up or shred the card once it is replaced. While not required to receive VA health care, all enrolled Veterans are encouraged to get a VHIC. Enrolled Veterans can get more information about the VHIC by visiting their VA medical facility enrollment coordinator or the website www.va.gov/healthbenefits/vhic, calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387) or visiting their local VA health care facility. Veterans who are not enrolled in the VA health care system can apply for enrollment at any time by visiting www. va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll, Calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387) or visiting their local VA health care facility

the Congress that may see a lot of disagreement. But there are a number of pieces of legislation that come out of the house that have bipartisan support.” He added, “I think when it comes to veterans and men and women in uniform, there’s a lot to agree on.” Information for tracking federal bills and contacting senators is at www.senate.gov. Information tracking state bills and contacting the Florida senators is at www. flsenate.gov.

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6 • FEBRUARY 28, 2014 • VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE

Staff photo by Mary Kemper Detective Christopher Anderson’s workspace includes several awards and certificates of recognition.

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Staff photo by Mary Kemper Detetive John Finnegan has put mementos of his military experience on the walls of his workspace.

DETECTIVES from page 1 much less than their similarities. They make it clear that they know each other very, very well, and their partnership doesn’t depend on superficial things. They tease each other often – what Finnegan calls “bashing” – and it’s just one part of a strong relationship. Both men are tall – over 6 feet. Anderson is African-American, while Finnegan is Irish-American. Anderson wears his hair closely cropped, almost shaven, while Finnegan has a thick head of nearly black hair, neatly combed. At one point, Finnegan “mocks” his partner, putting a hand on one side of his mouth and miming Anderson’s somewhat receding hairline. Anderson pretends he didn’t see the gesture, but it’s clear he did – it’s just one example of the two men’s almost instinctive trust in each other. They’re dressed in the relaxed, functional way professional police everywhere dress – slacks, shirts and ties. Their easy demeanor and professional appearance seem to come naturally to them. But what they went through, to get to this point, is much more than the average person will ever experience, something every combat veteran can readily appreciate. And make no mistake – they were both intensely tested in war.

“They used kids on purpose. (The enemy) knew Americans wouldn’t shoot at kids.” Detetive Christopher Anderson Anderson was an Army corporal, serving in the 3rd Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment, Task Force 82, of the 82nd Airborne. Serving from 2001 to 2004, he was an ammunition specialist. His job was to keep forward operation bases, or FOBs, supplied, which included “hot-fueling” Apache helicopters ahead of the next mission. That meant quickly pumping fuel into the helicopters while the rotors kept turning. In Iraq, Anderson says, there are duty stations, and then there are worse duty stations. “I was in basic training when 9/11 happened,” he says. “And I was sent to Afghanistan. Then I was transferred to Iraq, at Bagram Airfield. “There was no driving allowed. Only flying, or walking. The (enemy) would leave these soda bottles lying around. They’d fill them with (C-4) explosives and water, and when the water evaporated, they’d ignite,” he says. “I was in one helicopter, and we got hit, but the one behind us

See DETECTIVES page 7


VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE • FEBRUARY 28, 2014 • 7 “The funerals for the guys (who lost their lives) were surreal. It was a sobering reality. It could have been us.”

DETECTIVES from page 6 went down. “The funerals for the guys (who lost their lives) were surreal. It was a sobering reality. It could have been us,” he says. “That was my experience, but for the FOB guys, it was different.” Finnegan steps in. Where Anderson was stationed in a desert area, Finnegan was in a city, equally as tough an environment to fight in, for different reasons. “I was in Ramadi (central Iraq). When I got there, they were losing people left and right.” Finnegan served in the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, 4th Platoon (Weapons Platoon), C Company. He was also a corporal. He takes his own cell phone, and his partner Anderson’s, and places them side by side on a table to illustrate how tough it was to fight the enemy. “You’ve got a building here – and here – and between them nothing but a wall,” he said. “We couldn’t call in airstrikes because all the buildings were so close together, and the risk was too big for civilians.” Airstrikes were always either a salvation or a frustration, Finnegan says, noting that, many times, his unit would beg for them, only to have them refused – a situation due to, many times, having to “wait in line” for support to other units. “Sometimes, we’d

Detetive Christopher Anderson Indian River County Sheriff’s Office wait forever,” he says. Mortars were “huge” – a constant problem. “You never knew where they were coming from. Not like RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades), because you could see their smoke trails. “These guys were sneaky. You’d hear this ‘pffft’ and then boom! They’d land within 6 or 7 meters every time.” Finnegan recalls how his unit knew trouble would come soon in Ramadi. “Every evening, about 20 or 30 minutes before dark, everyone would get off the streets,” he says. “And, sure enough – they’d hit us.” Back and forth, one after the other, Finnegan and Anderson relate their experiences, and it’s clear that the few events they retell are just some of a great many. Area by area, building by building, the men fought for, and took, the places they’d been assigned. Anderson points out that the theaters each was assigned to were different – his was mostly the desert and isolated terrain – “out in the middle of nowhere” – at one point, he was stationed at Organ-E, on the border of Pakistan, while Finnegan was in the city environment. Anderson’s

unit would get air support, and Finnegan’s would not, for different reasons. Both acknowledge that the Marines and Army had different circumstances. But both put up with the same hardships. “Baby wipes!” Finnegan says with a laugh. “When you smell so bad, and there’s no water, and then you get to smell better – we loved (the care packages American civilians sent to the troops).” Showers consisted of a black bag with a straw attached, he says, into which you put up to eight precious bottles of water to give yourself a quick bath. “I joked that after a while, my camos were so stiff with salt (from sweat) they could stand up by themselves,” he says. And disposing of personal waste wasn’t much nicer, Anderson says. “Where we were, we’d turn over these [ammunition boxes] for privacy, you know, and we put in a lawn chair. Underneath it, we’d have a ’30 Mike Mike’ [30-mm housing shell). Then afterwards, you fill it up with JP8 (fuel) and burn it up.” In Finnegan’s case, the unit was issued “wag bags,” which were

plastic bags filled with cat litter. After doing their business, the men would throw the bags in the “burn pit” – located all too near their sleeping quarters. “Crap” was everywhere the men lived. Part of war, it might be argued. “We slept on a lot of floors,” Finnegan says. Both, though, say it didn’t define how they came to terms with their mission – eventually, it came down to the people. Indeed, both men remember vividly the Afghan and Iraqi civilians they met. For Anderson’s part, it was an Iraqi boy who had lost a leg that made one of the biggest impressions with him. He made friends with the boy, and helped him in any way he could. But who knew whether helping a child could lead to your own death? Finnegan recalls a time when he was confronted, and forced to make a decision whether to shoot a boy no older than 11. It was, he says, “the hardest decision of my life.” Luckily, as things turned out, he didn’t have to shoot. But the use of children in war haunts both men. “Oh, yeah,” Anderson says. “They used kids on purpose. (The enemy) knew Americans wouldn’t shoot at kids.” “They’d do anything they were told,” Finnegan says, including

See DETECTIVES page 9

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8 • FEBRUARY 28, 2014 • VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE

New York firefighters deliver WTC steel to SEAL museum — on bicycles Patrick McCallister For Veteran voice

patrick.mccallister@yahoo.com

A few New York Fire Department firefighters will take a bicycle ride on March 19. They’ll take off from the 9/11 Memorial and ride to the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, Fort Pierce. That’s about 1,400 miles. Oh, and they’ll have with them a 14-foot steel beam from the World Trade Center. The whole affair is called Ride for The Trident House. “They’re supposed to arrive at the museum Saturday, April 5,” David Staples, the museum’s social media marketing coordinator, said. That’s after the riders rest at the Museum’s Trident House in Sebastian. Normally the Trident House is reserved for SEALs and other members of the military’s various special operations. Staples said, “There’s a relationship between the SEALs and firefighters.”

See STEEL page 9

Photo courtesy of The U.S. Navy UDT-SEAL Museum New York Firefighters will ride from the 9/11 Memorial to The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum’s Trident House, Sebastian, later this month. The museum maintains to the home to give SEALs and others in the military’s special operations needed respite.

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VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE • FEBRUARY 28, 2014 • 9

Detective John Finnegan Indian River County Sheriff’s Office placing IED bombs. “They were bad,” Anderson says. “Flipping us off, everything.” These, and other memories, will stay in both men’s minds, they say. Eventually, service ends, and life “back in the states” has to begin. Every veteran has had to face going home. How did these men handle it? “When I got back home, I stood by the kitchen sink for 20 minutes, just looking at it,” Anderson says. “My wife asked what I was doing. I just couldn’t take my eyes off it.” It had been many, many months since he’d had access to much water at all, much less a modern convenience. Finnegan remembers being in a supermarket not long after returning to the U.S., and witnessing a woman “cursing out the manager” because the store didn’t have the item she wanted. “Finally, I said, ‘You can replace that item – there’s just no need to be that selfish.’ I mean, we ate nothing but MREs for months.” How do they feel about the way the situation is going today in their former war zones? “It was a fatal mistake to pull out of Iraq,” Finnegan says. “What does that say to the families who lost sons, brothers, fathers?” He lost “some really, really good friends,” he says, including three fellow Marines who were killed together in a Humvee. “Most got killed in combat, but there were guys who came back and got into DUIs, things like that,” he says. For Anderson, it’s a mixed reaction. “I do think the Iraqi people should stand on their own, just like we did (after the American Revolution). “But all conquerors, from Alexander the Great on up, went by the principle that you never

STEEL from page 8 The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa., tied the two groups together, Staples said. In addition to visiting the SEAL museum to deliver the steel beam, the riders from the Fire Department New York’s Ladder 6 will visit the Pentagon and the Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek to present a Halligan bar that was in rubble at the World Trade Center after the attacks. “We’re organizing a 35-mile ride with the guys,” Staples said. That’ll be the final leg of the ride, from Sebastian to Fort Pierce.

remove government. And look what’s happened,” he says, referring to how unstable the country remains today. The Afghan people “are really primitive,” Finnegan says. “They’ve got nothing.” For both Finnegan and Anderson, coming home after war involved a Red Cross intervention. Both men were recalled when family members had died. For both, it eventually led to becoming deputies in the Indian River County Sheriff’s Department. And then they became partners. Finnegan is a Sebastian native, and Anderson is from Vero Beach. Why do they do what they do? After fighting in war, why put themselves on the line? The two detectives put it pretty clearly. “I figured I could serve my country, and I can serve my county,” Finnegan says.” Anderson nods in agreement. “We made the choice to do something bigger than us,” he says. They are family men. They stick together. They love their community and their country. And their mission is to keep what is best in life going, as they see it. They stick together. It extends into their private lives. Finnegan and his fiancée have a 13-year-old daughter, a 9-yearold son and a 5-year-old daughter. Anderson and his wife of 12 years have a 9-year-old boy, a 3-year-old girl and a 1-year-old baby girl. Finnegan is godfather to one of Anderson’s children. Thus the two men’s lives are intertwined, now, and forever. They are partners. They are friends. They were warriors, and they still are.

Staples said the best way for interested folks to keep abreast of developments is to regularly visit the museum’s web page, www. navysealmuseum.com, and to like the museum’s Facebook page. “That’s one of the best places to look, actually,” he said. Additionally, the riders have a Facebook page, “FDNY Trident Ride.” Several messages left with the FDNY riders weren’t returned at press time. The museum is at 3300 N. Highway A1A. The phone is (772) 595-5845. It’s open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Sundays from noon the 4 p.m.

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10 • FEBRUARY 28, 2014 • VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE

Staff photo by Mary Kemper Above, Shelly Ferger is founder and CEO of Dogs For Life. At right, this boxer assists Vero Beach resident Mary ‘Mim’ Dunn, who has a hearing loss.

DOGS from page 4 where he goes. He has agreed to assist Ferger in speaking at Dogs For Life fundraisers, and she said the Taylor-Pia Pia duo is very effective. “You could literally see the change in him because of the dog,” said Mary “Mim” Dunn, of Vero Beach. She is a past president of Dogs For Life, and remains active in the organization. Dunn attended a fundraiser at her bridge club, and Taylor was the speaker. At one point, he broke down, and had to hand the microphone to his wife, Dawn, to continue where he left off. Mary “Mim” Dunn, Vero Beach resident and former president of Dogs For Life, on seeing how a service dog helped veteran Jim Taylor, who suffers from PTSD. “That dog came over to him, and you could just see the change in him,” Dunn said. “His face, his body. It was incredible. “If anyone didn’t know just how much those dogs help someone who’s suffering, that told you right there. It made my whole day.” Dunn, herself, has hearing loss, and depends on her assistance dog, Chance, a boxer, to help her get out and about. The Dog Park has separate enclosures for

large and small dogs to run free, as well as one for agility and other training purposes. There’s even a Memorial Garden, where people can either put up a memorial to a beloved pet or scatter a pet’s ashes. There are lots of trees and other plants throughout the grounds, as well as benches. To help keep the grounds clean, owners are required to dispose of their dogs’ waste as soon as the dogs have “gone.” While Ferger was talking, several dogs and their owners came in and turned their dogs loose. One, a black standard poodle, kept racing around the entire enclosure, stopping only to sniff the other dogs, while the owners conversed. “This park brings people together, not just dogs, as you can see,” Ferger said. Each enclosure has a water station. When the administrative and training building is completed, there will be offices and up-todate equipment. Along the fences in the training area are “bone boards,” which are square poster-sized boards containing dog bone-shaped plaques listing the names of donors. Ferger arranged them chronologically, from the earliest planning stages to the present. “There’s always room for more,” she said. Ferger stressed the need not only for dona-

tions, but in helping locate dogs to match with vets, and getting vets to become more involved. “If a vet becomes a trainer, for example, he’s not only helping himself but also his fellow vets,” Ferger said. “We’re really trying to get the word out both for them and for dogs.” Not every dog is suitable for training. Dogs For Life is one of only four organizations in Florida accredited by Assistance Dogs International, and Ferger and her associates are familiar with various dog traits. Anyone wishing to have their dog participate should meet with Dogs For Life staff and learn the guidelines ahead of time. Looking ahead, Ferger isn’t quite sure where the funding will come from to keep operating regularly, but, “somehow, it just keeps coming, and I’m so grateful. We really need it,” she said. Donations not only help with the building and grounds, but enable Dogs For Life to offer their services to veterans free of charge. “Our vets are so important to us,” Ferger said. “Let’s give them a way to start living a happier life.” For more information, contact Shelly Ferger at (772) 567-8969, or by e-mail at dogsforlifevb@ bellsouth.net

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VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE • FEBRUARY 28, 2014 • 11

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12 • FEBRUARY 28, 2014 • VETERAN VOICE • THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE

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Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

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February 28 through March 9, 2014 Open at 4 PM Monday thru Friday Noon on the Weekends

dini Lady Houpe Show Esca

Feature and Dated Events PRCA Rodeo (Adams Arena)

Friday and Saturday Feb. 28 and March 1 at 7:30 PM

Demo Derby (Veterans Walkway) Saturday March 8 at 4:00 PM

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (Adams Arena) Saturday March 8 at 7:30 PM

Lloyd Mabrey (12 string guitarist) Lady Houdini Escape Show Tiger Encounter show Racing Pigs Petting Zoo Ditzy the balloon artist and Facing Painting Livestock Shows and Sales The Funny Little People Plus lots of local acts on the Center Stage

RegulaR PRices adults 13+ $10...seniors 50+ and Veterans $5...child 6-12 $3 under 6 FRee No pets please, parking is $3 unless noted

all entertainMent iS Free WitH Gate adMiSSiOn!! Gate and ride SpecialS Monday and Wednesday FREE ADMISSION!! —ride all night for only $20 Saturdays kids 12 and under only a $1 ----ride all day for only $25 Sundays $2 off gate with 2 canned good items —ride all day for only $25 Tuesday is $2 gate, $2 rides and $2 parking Thursday is BOGO day…buy one get one gate admission and Buy one get one ride band

www.StluciecountyFair.com

unny e F e h l T Peop Little

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Every Day at the Fair

Demo Derby

Veteran 2 28 2014  

Detective vets have got each other’s backs, GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act passes House, referred to Senate, Dogs For Life definite boon for s...

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