What does Independence mean to you?

Wikipedia mentions that the opposite of independence is dependence.

Many Americans associate today’s date—July 4th—with our Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776.

Since then, our country has fought many battles to protect our freedom, and it’s important not to forget about the soldiers behind the liberty—they’ve laid their lives on the line.

My brother recently returned from his second stint in Afghanistan (two of several deployments). I also have numerous other friends and family members who have served in the military. For those of you who can relate, you know it’s not easy. Many of the soldiers lucky enough to come home are affected by PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder). 

I’ve recently had the pleasure of discovering an organization called PpaWWs. It stands for Paws and People Assisting Wounded Warriors. They’ve made it their mission to help soldiers cope with invisible wounds like PTSD.

Soldiers (called warriors) and dogs are carefully matched together. Then they complete a customized six-month training session. Dogs are free…at not cost to the soldiers they are paired with.  For the soldier, the rewarding relationship that’s formed is something money could never buy.

Independence is something sacred for these warriors trying to re-claim their lives after experiencing the horror of war. The dogs are service dogs—trained to help soldiers with every day activities. In addition, they assist with anger issues and often silently help to heal a warrior’s spirit.

Janet Austin, Northeast Outreach Coordinator and Board Member for PpaWWs said, “A woman asked me on the phone once if we used rescue dogs. My reply was, no…we rescue wounded warriors with our dogs.”

PpasWWS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that depends on donations. If you wish to contribute, or to learn more about what they do, you can visit their website: www.ppawws.org. Or, click here to view their Facebook page.

On this Independence Day, remember that freedom comes at a cost. If you’ve enjoyed the benefits without paying with your life—or your blood, sweat, and tears—then consider paying a little something back to those who’ve offered to protect it with theirs.