Dear Mr. Bender, Mr. Cook, and the Entire Avalon Staff: (owners of Avalon Bagels to Burgers)
"I want to thank all of you for the warm welcome and hospitality that you extended to us veterans yesterday on Veterans Day. I came with my wife and a friend, Rick Jenison, and his wife, and we had a wonderful time. Both my friend and I are retired Marines and as you probably know there are no ex-Marines.
I was in Vietnam and when I returned home there was no parade or reception for those of us returning from that war. This is the second year that I have been to Avalon on Veterans Day and the reception from your staff has been so heartwarming, and I just want to say thank you for helping to bring closure to the past.
Also, Rick and I had the pleasure of meeting a World War II Marine who fought on Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima, and Rick and I were in awe of what those Marines went through. Thanks for providing the place where us old veterans could get together and thank one another for their service".
With Warmest Regards,
James Crossan, M.D.
Sergeant, USMC (Ret)
After much reflection here it goes...
My parents gave consent for me to join the Marine Corps at 17. Several family members had served with the Marines in Vietnam, Korea, and the Philippines. I also had an Uncle that served in the Army in Vietnam as the true saying goes "same blood and same mud". I looked up to all these individuals as a kid and all that they had accomplished in and out of the service yet I was young and did not think that I would come back from the Marines with similar invisible wounds that showed up for them e.g. PTSD. I too accomplished well beyond my dreams in the service, school, public and private sectors for work.
Over the years my survivor guilt worsened and I did not know that I too suffered with PTSD. I viewed life as a struggle every day and did not understand why others did not take life as serious. I kept everything to myself the terror nightmares, panic attacks, and flashbacks. I just believed I would not live a long life. I would hear helicopters and be enraged as I had never made the connection between losing Marines in helicopters and not being able to save them and my anger when hearing helicopters and there were many more symptoms that I just was not aware of.
My life went from achieving at a very high level to finding myself sharing a room at the V.A. hospital in West Los Angeles with two other veterans suffering with PTSD. One Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor suggested I read the book Until Tuesday by Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan because I mentioned to her that I was interested in a Service Dog as I had tried all of the V.A.'s conventional therapies primarily medication for my symptoms. I read the book on my bunk and shared it with my roommates and providers and submitted my application for a service dog. My service dog Kyle was worth the wait he is a beautiful Labrador and Golden Retriever Mix a real people magnate. He knows 150 commands yet he gives them to me slowly as we build trust. Kyle is more then a beautiful and smart dog though. He helps remind me to take my medication, he wakes me up in the morning, he reminds me that its time to go to bed, he provides me with courage to go out into the world. Yet beyond all of this his name might as well be "Hope" because that's what he gives me more then anything a hope for a brighter future, closer relationships, and a way out of the darkness.
Dominic Macaya Sgt USMC
In May of 2015 Sergeant Lyndon Villone completed the 7-week training seminar with his service dog Ice. Driven by a passion to prevent the constant occurrence of suicides, which he had witnessed so much with Marines he served with while in Iraq, Lyndon has used the training and certification he received during this course to start his own non-profit foundation called "Heel the Heroes". Lyndon is the founder of the foundation and is currently operating it out of San Antonio, TX where he is assisting many other Veterans.
Please read more about Lyndon and his foundation in his latest newsletter: