Celebrate freedom

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate freedom.

While many of us are enjoying the food and fireworks, and spending time with friends and family, those who have truly sacrificed for our freedoms should be in our minds as well.

One of those soldiers is featured in an article in today’s Post-Record. Camas resident John Kaiser is a beneficiary of the “Battle Buddies” program.

Northwest Battle Buddies works to provide service dogs at no charge to combat veterans who suffer from PTSD and/or depression.

According to the organization’s founder, Shannon Walker, “One of these specially trained service dogs would be a constant companion that offers support, security, love and loyalty. The four legged companion would be that faithful partner at all times, offering unconditional acceptance no matter what private battle that hero may be facing.”

Kaiser, an Army staff sergeant, was wounded in 2006 during a tour of duty in Baghdad. While his physical wounds healed, he was left to deal with the serious mental and emotional trauma that resulted from his experience. Today, he credits the Battle Buddies program, and his dog Ruger, with giving him the freedom to enjoy life and feel comfortable in situations that previously caused stress and anxiety.

Kaiser’s struggles after returning home from battle are not uncommon. Unfortunately, many men and women are dealing with the similar issues that can sometimes, in the most tragic of situations, lead to suicide.

Battle Buddies, and other programs geared toward assisting our veterans, are working to change that.

So, as we prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, keep in mind how lucky we are to live in America, and the men and women who sacrifice so much to help make it all possible.