River was offered to Northwest Battle Buddies after being abandoned at a river as an eight-week-old pup. It was easy to name her River considering her start in life. She was raised in our puppy foster program and professionally trained to be a service dog. When Mike came into the program and met River, it was instant magic.
Mike and River were one of those teams that captivated our hearts instantly. Their bond was immediate. River’s introduction to Mike came on the one-year anniversary date of his suicide attempt. The strength of Mikes’s raw emotions was equally matched by River’s stability and intuition to be what Mike needed in his life. Together with Mike’s young beautiful wife, they have continued to live life to the fullest. It was Mike’s incredible, courageous story that was the inspiration for our monthly giving program Operation Never Quit.
“Exactly one year prior to getting River, to the date, I attempted to take my own life. The pressure became too much. The vertigo and headaches from my TBI (traumatic brain injury) were excruciating. I felt like a failure, worthless…. Why was I spared over the husbands, fathers and friends I served with that didn’t come home? The guilt was too much to handle. I tried all the meds…they did nothing. Drinking became my numbing agent, that only made things so much worse… 3 years no booze now..
The hardest part is 10 years later, I still get calls telling me another army brother has taken his own life. These were some of the toughest men, fathers and sons I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. The pressure was too much. My hyper-vigilance made me feel like every rooftop had a sniper and every trash bag on the road was an IED. My innocence was stolen from me at 18 when I had to kill or be killed for the first time.
During my attempt I had everything. I bought my first house, just got married to the love of my life a couple months before all this, makes no sense, I know… I should’ve been on cloud nine. But my PTSD took over that day. I was having a bad day to start because I had just lost another friend.
So I said f*ck it! I drank down a 24-pack of beer, pulled my hidden Remington 870 out of the attic…put down a tarp…grabbed a chair…put the barrel in my mouth, tears were rushing down my face as I was thinking about my wife and family and what I was about to do to them. Now I move my finger to the trigger. As I do this, Lindsay comes in to check on me. Her jaw dropped, and without skipping a beat she used unreal strength to get the rifle from me. She saved my life!!
After this she put me into a PTSD program that I went to twice and she found NWBB. Now she can relax somewhat. I have River, who is now saving me daily….”