Meet Bill and service dog Lee
Bill O’Brien and service dog Lee
After Bill O’Brien returned from two overseas tours to Desert Storm and Afghanistan, this 22-year Army veteran remained on active duty as a recruiter. Symptoms of PTSD tried to take him down, but with support from his wife, Eisheh, and the comfort of his pet dog, a chocolate Lab named Bear, Bill pressed on. “It took me longer than I expected to adapt,” he says. When Bear passed away, Bill found himself becoming more and more reclusive, and the V.A. recommended a service dog.
“If I go out, my wife goes, or my daughters,” he says. “I’m home all day by myself—going out is my biggest obstacle.” Several encounters with dogs from our school played a role in encouraging Bill to apply. He met guide dogs and their handlers at the V.A. hospital in Tampa. He ran into a puppy raiser with a puppy at the local Publix, and she gave him a card with our phone number. Those encounters led Bill to a “goofy, playful, and very smart” black Labrador named Lee, his service dog and constant companion.
“Depression is a big thing, and stress,” Bill says. “Being alone doesn’t help, and Lee is a big help on that part. I turn around and he’s there. I call him and he’s there. I like the companionship of him being there, which I need.”