Hospitalization and Recovery during a Pandemic

The pandemic has been difficult for all our TAD* veterans, but one client in particular, Rebecca, found herself in an extremely tough situation. A few months prior to the pandemic, she had to make the hard decision to have her second leg amputated. She had only had her Service Dog, Sully, for about 4 months at that time and was clearly worried about what to do with him while in the hospital. NEADS worked with her to help her understand her options, and she ultimately decided to have NEADS take care of Sully while she had her surgery and during the first two weeks of recovery so she could focus on getting better.

NEADS staff picked up Sully from her home and brought him back to NEADS (a journey of more than 6 hours) before the first surgery and, as soon as she was ready to have Sully by her side in rehab, brought him back to her. His presence brightened her up right away and helped her recovery tremendously.

Rebecca had just started transitioning to life at home when the pandemic hit. It was clear that had she not had Sully by her side, the isolation would have been extremely detrimental to her recovery. NEADS staff continued to text, talk over the phone, and meet with her virtually during the group Zoom meetings.

When Rebecca returned to rehab for two weeks during the COVID crisis, Sully went with her. She and other patients were not allowed visitors due to health risks, but Sully was there and made her stay easier. He quickly became her support during a trying rehabilitation, and also lifted the spirits of all the patients and staff.

“Sometimes things happen for a reason,” says Rebecca. “I got Sully in August, and my health took a hit in October. Sully was with me every day to help me through it.  In January, NEADS stepped up and made sure that Sully and I were taken care of and that he was brought back to me at the hospital as soon as I was ready for him. I don’t know what I would have done through the countless hours of physical therapy and two hospital stays if I didn’t have Sully by my side.

“He helps me with physical tasks daily and is always there to support me; he knows when I am anxious, startled, or angry and immediately comes to calm me.  I cannot believe he has only been in my life for nine months; it has been a crazy time and I cannot thank NEADS and Sully enough for getting me through it.”

* The Trauma Assistance Dog program (TAD) is designed for veterans with diagnosed service-related PTSD from trauma that occurred during active duty.