Meet Stefanie and service dog Leland
Stefanie Marvin-Miller & service dog Leland
Army National Guard veteran Stefanie Marvin-Miller knows by heart certain important dates. The day she was honorably discharged from the Army; her wedding day; the day she received the call that she would receive Leland, her yellow Labrador service dog (she recalls bursting into tears of joy); and one other date. “August fifth,” Stefanie shares, her eyes gleaming. “Leland turns two.”
Leland’s birthday is important to Stefanie because she will be able to shop for treats for him, and she hasn’t gone grocery shopping by herself since 2016. A veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, she suffers from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that paralyzes her with fear if she’s walking alone for more than a few moments. “I walked with Leland and even stopped to take a picture of a bench. I would never have done that before,” Stefanie says.
After 13 years of combat operations, Operation Enduring Freedom ended in 2014, but the internal combat for veterans would only just begin. And personal victories would begin to matter to veterans like Stefanie. She wants to start taking evening college courses, which Stefanie says she can do now that she has Leland. “I will not walk outside at night, but I have done it with Leland,” she says. Stefanie and Leland are a pair destined for victories.
Leland is sponsored and named by Stanley and Toni Carter in memory of Stanley’s uncle, Leland Carter. Leland, an Air Force fighter pilot in the Korean War, was a loving father figure to Stanley.