Meet Linda Ambard and Gold Star Family Dog Peyton

gold star family dog

Linda Ambard sits in a recliner with Peyton, a Gold Star Family dog sitting next to her. [Pictured: A woman sits in a recliner chair with an American flag blanket on the back. A golden retriever sits on the ground next to the woman with a red bandana around her neck with “Peyton” stitched on it.]

Maj. Philip D. Ambard gained U.S. citizenship by enlisting in the Air Force at age 18. He served 26 years, was promoted from airman to officer, mastered ten languages, earned a Ph.D., taught at the Air Force Academy, and deployed throughout his career.

His wife, Linda, adored him, and like most military spouses, followed him around the country. They raised five children, four of whom graduated from military academies. “Phil never lost sight of the freedoms and opportunities earned through his U.S. citizenship,” Linda says. “He could have retired but instead planned to stay in the Air Force until they made him get out.” In 2011, Phil was assigned to mentor Afghan troops, befriending a senior Afghan officer. That “friend” turned assassin, and on April 27, 2011, he opened fire, killing Phil and seven other U.S. airmen.

Today Linda struggles with the tremendous loss to herself and their children, and anxiety-laden post-traumatic stress disorder tries to take her down. She works tirelessly on behalf of those experiencing military loss, especially the forgotten parents, siblings, and adult kids. Her many efforts include authoring a book, blogging, working on Whiteman Air Force Base as a violence prevention specialist, speaking on military issues and military loss, running marathons on behalf of veterans, and advocating before congress.

Running is one of Linda’s coping strategies. “I was at the Boston Marathon when all hell broke loose,” she shares. “I was one stoplight away from finishing when the first explosion happened.” That day, she shared raw emotions on a now-viral Facebook post with over 222,000 likes and 40,000 shares. Here’s an excerpt from that courageous post:

“How can it be that as I was running to snub my nose at the terrorist that took Phil, another sought to destroy the hard fought for happiness I have found. It cannot end this way. I am shaking and I am physically ill tonight, but I will pick myself up one faltering step at a time until I can run victorious once again. I cannot let these vile monsters create any more fear in my life. I just can’t.”
Today Linda has a new coping strategy. She’s recently met Peyton, an adorable and spunky golden retriever named through Ruby Curtis’ Walkathon fundraising as a fan tribute to the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning. Peyton is Linda’s Gold Star Family dog, a gift hand-delivered by our staff to help lighten her load. “I love Peyton and I sure needed her,” Linda shares. “She makes my heart happy. My son has been struggling with anxiety, too, and Peyton came along at just the right time.” Peyton’s ongoing presence, comfort, and unconditional love make a huge difference for this family that has sacrificed so much.

Posted on November 7, 2017 | Category: Blog, Graduates, Our Dogs