Veterans Day 2009 and TTOH
A Special Veterans Day Honors Wounded Veterans and their Service Dogs
New York, November 11, 2009 The Tower of Hope joined with families and friends at four NY Metro area homes to pay special tribute to wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their service dogs. At receptions held in Greenwich, CT, New York City, Pound Ridge, NY and Pocantico, NY, veterans and their service dogs related their experiences in recovering from their combat wounds, and explained how their quality of life has been dramatically improved by the support and companionship of their service dog.
One event was held at the home of Jeffrey Joseph and Pat Jones, in Pocantico Hills near Pleasantville, NY. It was extremely well-attended with in excess of 50 people present to learn of the Tower of Hope’s mission. Most of the people had no prior exposure to TTOH, and many were there simply because of the passion for the mission expressed by the hosts to their closest friends and neighbors. Representing veteran/dog teams to express the dramatic impact that service dogs can have on the lives of our wounded heroes, was Chris Maddeford and his service partner AJ. He spoke poignantly about the struggles the past 6 years have been with PTSD and traumatic brain and other injuries, and the difference that the past 8 months with AJ have made. Renowned author Ben Cheever, introduced only recently to the still underreported benefits that these intensely trained dogs bring to wounded veterans, made a brief statement that brought several attendees to tears. The highlight of the evening, after several presenters, was a moving video about the Tower of Hope, from inception to highlighting several recipients and their stories, with an emotional appeal on this Veterans Day for generosity for our noble cause.
- Hosts Jeff and Pat, Veteran Chris
- Veteran Chris with Service Dog "AJ"
Long-time Greenwich residents Leora and Steven Levy hosted their second annual elegant cocktail party on Veterans Day to honor America’s military veterans and to introduce friends to a returned wounded veteran whose life has been changed because she was given a service dog. Pattie and Frederick Simon, recent transplants to Greenwich, co-chaired the event with the Levys. The event featured a similar program to introduce The Tower of Hope to the guests, and to have them meet an injured servicewoman, Alexis Courneen, and her service dog Sooner. Alexis told the audience about the importance of having Sooner, as he sat at her feet and awaited his next command. Alexis was injured while serving in the coast guard, suffering severe neck, right arm, shoulder and hip injuries on both sides. She walks with a cane and has trouble with balance. “My life changed when Sooner came along. It is hard for me to balance myself, and if I fall, I cannot get up. Sooner helps me by providing balance (using a special halter) and by picking up things that I’ve dropped. If I can’t get up after a fall, Sooner brings me the phone so I can call for help.”
Founder Cathy Carilli spoke about the 45,000 wounded veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan after serving to protect our country, of the several thousands who have returned missing limbs and with other serious injuries, and about how service dogs have assisted many of these veterans in regaining their independence. Newly re-elected First Selectman Peter Tesei joined in the program by reading a proclamation from the town of Greenwich acknowledging the service or our veterans and the importance of the work being done by The Tower of Hope, and declaring Veterans Day in Greenwich as The Tower of Hope Day.
- Founder Cathy Carilli receives proclamation
- Hosts Levys and Simons, Veteran Alexis & Sooner
Descriptions of the Pound Ridge event, hosted by Dr. Emer Leahy and Donald Perun, and the NYC event, hosted by Whitney Bloom and Robin and John Klein, along with additional photos, will be available soon.