Jessica allowed us to use this excerpt from her Facebook post:
I don't often post very personal things on Facebook because I am, for the most part, a private person. However, I wanted to post this publicly because I posted on another page and someone messaged me saying that they needed to see my post that day. They had been letting their depression and PTSD get the best of them and my post made him feel like there was hope. And that struck me so deeply because that is why I did this photo shoot. I want to reach other veterans who are struggling and let them know. PTSD isn't the end. I've made progress and I've had regression. It's a constant battle, it seems never ending but it can get better. It will get better.
He may not know what he does for me. He doesn't know that every day he's the reason I wake up and get out of bed. He doesn't know that every day he saves my life. But I do SOLAS is Gaelic for Light.
He is my light in the dark.
There were many reasons why I chose to do this photo shoot. I wanted to feel pretty, I wanted to feel like I wasn't my disability. I want to show people that veterans need service dogs. That even healthy looking, young women have seen and been through hell. I have PTSD. I have a TBI. But they are not who I am.
I am a Marine Corps Veteran and this will not beat me.
Thank you for all that you have done for me. These last few weeks has made me believe that there is still wonderful people out there who really do all they can to help and give without expecting anything in return. It’s hard for me as a Marine to be emotional about sharing my feelings but I hope this letter lets all of you know how much I am thankful that you have helped me receive such a special dog like Mac.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you have done for me and my family. I have had TROOPER for a week now and have already taken notice to how he has changed our lives. July 5th was our youngest daughters 3rd Birthday. Trooper and I had gone over to Wal-Mart to buy a gift for her. I had no clue what to get which for me was unheard of. I would always look online then go to the store to buy it so I can be in and out in less than five minutes. I also would go at night like around 2 or 3 am. This trip was at noon. The parking lot was full and the store was crowded. I spent about an hour, hour ½ debating over tinker bell, my little pony, or Disney princesses. For me this was a major step in a long road but thanks to you I know it is a doable one. The final winner was one of each; they were all so cute I could not decide.
I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done. It has not happened yet, but one of our friends gave us some movie tickets for my wife Deborah and me to go to a movie as a congratulations gift. Deborah is excited because we have not gone to a movie in several years. I too am excited to go to a movie and then I am going to surprise her with dinner plans. None of this could have been possible without your help and generosity. I will never be able to thank you enough for giving me my life back and the ability to enjoy the simple things that most take for granted.
Karl J Johnstone
Sergeant 3rd Battalion 4th Marines Kilo Company, USMC Ret
Hector Perez & Apache (2013)
My journey began while I was in the process of medically retiring from the military. I wasn’t sure where I was going or even who I was. I knew I was unable to stay in the service, as I was no longer the person I was when I joined. I knew I was angry and lost and it was at this time when I started to miss my service dogs and I did not want to leave them behind. When I was retired out of the military I started to look for service dogs but the process was daunting and frustrating.
When I had given up I was told about Canine Support Team and decided to give it one last chance. When Ifound out that I would have sponsors for this program to get my service dog, I was one step closer to being excited. The piles of paperwork that it took to get me here was frustrating, the waiting process was debilitating, and the worry that something would go wrong sometimes paralyzed me. I don’t want to be on camera, I don’t want to talk about my issues, and I don’t like to expose myself to relying on anyone but myself, yet I have done all those things and more.
I am finally able to be excited and happy about the idea of having a service dog of my own. I can’t say I am always positive, or hopeful, or even able to just believe, but I can say humbly that I am very thankful. I am grateful for people who cared when I had no one, I am gratified to be a part of something that gives back, and I am appreciative of your kindness. I could name names, but the list would be a little long and I don't know everyone who made this possible but I am eternally grateful for this second chance at a new beginning. Those of you who have worked closely with me know who you are and I will try to always show you my appreciation every time APACHE is with me, taking me to new places and being by my side the whole way as I am not so great with my words.
From The Depths of Our Hearts,
Hector Perez & Apache
I will begin by expressing my deepest gratitude in thanking you for your selfless act of kindness. Your donation was more than a monetary blessing in allowing me to receive a service dog named “GEORGIA.” Your provisions allowed a connection to be mended and a portion of my life to bloom again toward embracing a purpose. With such a limited time allotted for bonding during the training sessions, myself and GEORGIA immediately connected during our first weekend of bonding which presented an emotional memory for me. If GEORGIA could understand my tears, she would probably tell me that she doesn’t mind and we’ll get through this together because not every situation can be resolved by what’s considered common sense, not even close.
Your selfless donation has given me a therapeutic companion in dealing with days of psychological depression. My mental and physical disabilities are intrusive and demands undivided attention for staying alive. I am so very grateful for the support from the Veterans Center introducing me to Canine Support Teams, and then having you touch my heart at such an acerbic time in my life. God is wonderful; his blessings are always on time. I’m confident within my heart that GEORGIA will continue to be great in rebuilding stability in my life and family. Regaining solace is extremely important to me, it’s a journey my prayers will blanket in reestablishing daily normalcy.
In closing, I would like to thank you in prayer and within my heart in believing that God’s blessings are lamented by faith. I have faith in knowing that your act of kindness was a gift from God and my prayers for blessings will be answered tenfold. As a Military veteran, we’re use to executing orders for the mission, but in receiving a gracious gift such as this tears me up and washes away the pain. There are wonderful people in the world that I can trust in good faith because their hearts are genuine and sincere in all facets. I believe this is a harbinger toward invigorating positive beliefs as a person and for my family.
With Love, Thank you very much and God Bless.
U.S. Marine Corp (RET)
Jacqueline Baskett &
Canteen (2013) - Adele (2015)
In my mind, the words “Thank you, thank you, thank you”, just aren’t enough. I did not know how much I was without until I had. CANTEEN has brought a new chance of life for me. She is my companion, my helper, my new best friend. I could not have afforded this without your help.
From the moment I wake up, she is there, licking my face, “Good Morning!” She patiently waits until I am ready to leave for the day. Before CANTEEN, I had no desire to leave the house, work, or anything else for that matter.
When my kids left, then my husband, I spent many days home alone. I am not from California, and I have no extended family here. I went through severe depression and was under the care of a psychiatrist, and psychologist. I would have to take pills to get me up and motivated, and help me sleep at night. Now, I feel comfortable sleeping at night because I know CANTEEN has my back!
The home I am in carries good and bad memories. Within this past year, I also have had major setbacks with my health. Both my rotator cuffs tore, which made it very difficult to move around. I had fallen several times due to my shoulders giving out. Now, I feel confident if I should fall I could depend on CANTEEN to help me up. She is a very strong and dependable dog. When I have a bad shoulder day I can depend on her to get me through it. I am not afraid to commit to work or any other commitments. I can go to the grocery store with her, and shop for any other necessities I need. It’s like now I have a purpose, a reason to continue to live my life.
Know that it is people like you who are truly blessed. I am truly blessed to be a part of your generosity. Although I do not know you personally, I know you are a very kind and special spirit. You are welcome to visit us at my home any time, to witness our success. If I can assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to let me know. Again, thank you and God bless you.
UPDATE: since writing this testimonial, CANTEEN has passed away. She was still a young dog and her loss was heartbreaking for Jacqui.
In 2015, Jacqui applied for and received a “successor dog” named ADELLE. We are very proud of the new partnership that Jacqui & ADELE have forged.
A recent graduate from our program, Alex, spent a successful career in the US Marine Corps as a leader - making life & death decisions in combat situations. He was physically strong, and mentally & emotionally confident. At home, he was a loving and involved husband and father. All that changed when he was severely injured in a supply convoy. A debilitating back injury and the trauma of the accident turned this courageous warrior into a prisoner in his own body. Even as his body began to slowly heal, his mind was tormented by the flood of memories unleashed by the triggering episode and the medications intended to help him. He began a downward spiral of depression and isolation.
A chance encounter with a disabled veteran and his Service Dog at the hardware store lit a spark of hope for Alex – and his family. This veteran pointed Alex in our direction and set him on the most amazing path to recovery and healing. Fast-forward nine months: through our PAWZ for Wounded Veterans program, Canine Support Teams placed CHIP, a 2 yr old Golden Retriever, fully trained Service Dog, with Alex to assist him with mobility, retrieval, blocking/posting, and responding to stress triggers.
Alex & CHIP are now a dynamic duo that face the day with confidence – together.
We had a grandma in clinic who is caring for 3 of her daughter's drug-exposed babies. We were all sitting on the floor, and the grandma started to speak about her daughter with a quivery voice, full of guilt about what she could have done to prevent the situation. Blessed and I were playing with her granddaughter. Blessed left my side, went up to the grandma, laid her head on her lap, and licked her hand. The woman hugged her. The physical therapist I work with said, "Oh my gosh! I've never seen her lick ANYONE!" It was so unbelievable! My crazy girl! :-) Thank you, ladies!!!
Just wanted to share with you a compliment I received last week. We were waiting in line at the airport and a woman came up to me and asked me what agency Blessed came from. She was very impressed with how well behaved she was. She then proceeded to tell me that she did puppy raising for Seeing Eye Dogs for 10 years. I expressed my admiration for seeing eye dogs and how service dogs probably can’t even hold a candle to a seeing eye dog. She told me that you wouldn't know it watching Blessed today
It is hard for me to put into words what your organization has done for me. I have only had my Service dog (VELVET) for two weeks, but she has already had such a significant impact on my life.
I have been living in Milwaukee Wisconsin since March of 2012 (when I Medically Retired from the Navy with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury), but due to the nature of my illnesses I had yet to actually walk down my block. When I came home with Velvet that changed instantly. I'm finally meeting neighbors that my husband told me about over a year ago.
I started taking my children (Liberty-4 & Liam-3) to their gymnastics classes twice a week. My daughter Liberty has been doing gymnastics since she was 2, and my husband has always taken her. He even brought our son every week to the "Mommy and Me" classes...my poor husband was the only male 'mommy.' Every week, my daughter used to look up at me and ask "Mom, can you come with us and watch me walk on the beam at 'nastics?" My difficulty in public places, with crowds, and in unfamiliar social situations had always lead me to make excuses about having too much laundry or housework to be able to go along. A couple of months ago, my daughter gave up. She wouldn't even ask me to attend anymore. When they got home, she would show me the stickers she got for a “Job Well Done” then tell me, "Maybe next time you can see me do 'Nastics, Mom." I could see the disappointment on her face and I felt horrible for letting her down. There is no healthy or easy way to explain PTSD to a child. There's no way of telling a child that Mommy doesn't feel safe or in control when she leaves the house.
I felt like a failure as a mother and as a wife. Casey would work all day, then stop at the grocery store on the way home to take care of shopping. If the kids needed clothes or shoes he would have to rush home from work, feed them, and drag them to the store...alone. I'm not even telling you about the days that I experience migraines. Casey doesn't ever get to sleep in. He gets up with the kids, feeds them, and takes them to the zoo...alone. If not for his wedding ring, you'd think he was a single father. In some ways he has been a lot like a widower because I have been so depressed, isolated, and distant for so long. I had started to feel like a burden to my family.
I wanted my kids to have a mother and my husband to have his wife back, because
I wanted to be better for them. I never could have imagined what this Service Dog would do for ME. Getting to see both of my children at their gymnastics practice (for the first time) was AMAZING. They were so happy and carefree. I had never gotten to really relax and watch my children from a distance before, or see the way they interact with other children. They were so proud to share their jumps, rolls, and falls with me! They made their coach come up and "meet VELVET" after class. I finally met Coach Sarah. She told me all about how both of the kids had been improving on their skills and behavior. I'm sure this is very mundane for most people, but for most people a walk in the park is just a walk in the park. Making small talk, connecting with another adult, and being involved with my children outside of my home and comfort zone was a Very Big Deal.
When we first got home from California, we needed a lot of dog supplies. I had to go to several stores with VELVET. For the first time in years, I walked into a store without fear or hesitation. My mission was the same, but my focus was different. Instead of watching the crowds of people (reading their movements and faces suspiciously) and becoming overwhelmed, I was preoccupied with VELVET. I was making sure she was walking in the right place, standing out of the way of others, and behaving herself while I got the shopping done. I had locked myself in the house for years (unfortunately along with my children), but VELVET has already started opening doors for me.
VELVET is giving me a new life. Canine Support Teams taught me more about myself in two weeks than 6 years of therapy has. They didn't just give me a beautiful dog. CST training staff broke down my walls and gave me the confidence to go back out into the world again. I cried a lot during my training with Velvet because I trusted the trainers, volunteers, staff, and my classmates enough to let them into my life, and they helped me let go of a lot of painful thoughts that were holding me back. In those two weeks I learned to trust people again and I made friends, which is something I haven't done in years.
Words could truly never express how grateful I am for the financial and emotional support that I received from start to finish. A kind stranger named Sister Pauline lead me to Canine Support Teams (after an exhaustive year-long search to find an organization that trained Service Dogs for my specific needs); the CST staff never gave up on looking for a donor for me; a benevolent donor generously RESCUED me at the last minute, and Semper Fi Fund got me on a plane.
Without your generosity a big piece of the puzzle would be missing, and NONE of this would have been possible. If not for your kindness toward a total stranger, I would not be sitting here writing this letter with a heart full of joy and gratitude. I am already a different person than the woman who stepped on the plane. I want you to know that you've not only put a family back together: given two children their mom and a husband his wife, but you saved a Veteran's life!!!
While every day is not perfect, I'm so glad to be living again. I don't feel like I'm fighting to survive anymore, I'm just taking life as it comes. The world was missing out on somebody great while I was hiding from it. I cannot wait to start helping other veterans. From the bottom of my heart thank you for helping me take the first (and biggest step) on my journey to recovery. I'm finally moving forward and walking with a purpose.
I will never be the same and it's all thanks to the selflessness and generosity of people like you. Thank you.
Jessica M. Landeros (USN, Ret.)
Canine Support Teams, Inc
26500 Scott Rd
Menifee, CA 92584
PO Box 891767
Temecula, CA 92589-1767
Phone: 951 301-3625 951 301-3625
Fax: 951 301-3605