Meet Thomas and service dog HadleyThomas Murray learned that the best way to suppress PTSD was to work harder and never give yourself time to think. He buried memories of 19 months in Vietnam as a Combat Artillery Officer, where his Air Cavalry Command and Control Huey was shot down in Laos. The Cobra gunships in his unit protected the downed crew until a Medivac helicopter got them out. Thomas was shot down three times before his time in Vietnam was done, twice in a fixed wing plane and once in that Huey helicopter.
After earning an MBA followed by a PhD in Social Science Education, Thomas enjoyed a long career as a high school teacher and university professor. He engaged struggling students in a dropout prevention program by teaching a semester-long course titled, “The History of the Vietnam War” and introducing them to wounded veterans, ultimately presenting his dissertation on the experience. Work, work, and more work kept him occupied, until the clock slowed him down, his body let him down, and his doctor said, “I want to be as blunt as I can be. If you don’t do something different, you’re going to die.”
On Veterans Day, Thomas experienced an emotional breakdown in front of the entire student body and staff at the high school where he teaches world history, economics, and American government. That’s the day he applied for a service dog, and now a calm and obedient black Labrador named Hadley came to stay through our home placement program.
Thomas and Hadley now spend their days together, inseparable. “I feel like there’s more of a calmness to me,” he says. “Some of my students have told me that the classroom feels a lot more relaxed, too. It’s interesting that the presence of a dog changes the feeling of the room.”
After years of only sleeping about three hours a night, Hadley’s presence has brought relief there, too, and Thomas noticed that he’s getting more sleep these days. “I really think that as time goes on I’ll see significant change in my ability to cope and relax,” he says. “Relaxation isn’t something I understand.”
That’s okay. Hadley does, and she’s a wonderful teacher, too.