“I came back physically whole and this is a way I can give back to those who came back disabled,” said Darla of her return from deployment to Iraq as part of the National Guard. “It’s exciting to think that some other Vet is going to get one of these dogs,” she continued, as she trains PawPADs dogs to turn on lights, open doors, and even present a credit card to a cashier - all tasks that greatly enhance the abilities of the wounded warriors Darla’s hopes her dogs-in-training will go to.
Darla has been on three deployments, is a mother of teenagers and a wife of a fellow National Guard member. Deployments and service have tested her and her family but time with the dogs is therapeutic. “For me, it has been healing in more ways than one. When I came back, everything was different. “This brings me stability and purpose,” she says; two words we hear over and over from Veterans who struggle with finding them on returning to civilian life. The discipline involved in training a service dog provides that stability, and giving that dog away to a fellow wounded warrior is a purpose beyond value.