Mia Salazar was born in Peru and came to the United States when she was 12 years old to escape terrorism directed at her family. When 9/11 happened, she felt the need to serve and fight against the terrorists, so she left her job as a paralegal and enlisted in the Marines. Mia served for almost 10 years, including an 8 month deployment to Iraq in 2003.
From 2003 through the time Mia left the Marines as a Sergeant in 2011, Mia suffered from undiagnosed PTSD. Though she continued working as a fitness instructor and raising her family upon leaving the Marines, Mia experienced sleep disruptions, crowd anxiety and hypervigilance with her children, among other symptoms. Her strong personality and fighting spirit persuaded her that she could “tough things out” and “get through it” on her own. When her father was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2020, Mia moved her family from NY to NJ to help care for him.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The double blow exacerbated her PTSD symptoms. Mia felt a lack of control, depression, nightmares. She sought help at Headstrong, an organization for Veterans and first responders, as well as the V.A., but the pandemic made scheduling appointments nearly impossible. She also didn’t want to rely on medications.
When her panic attacks, chest pains, racing heartbeat and anxiety resulted in multiple trips to the ER, Mia knew she needed more help. A friend had told her about Semper Fido and how having a certified service dog had made such a difference in her life, so Mia contacted Semper Fido and was accepted into the program. Recently, Mia and her service dog, Clay graduated from the Semper Fido program.
Quite simply, Clay has changed Mia’s life!
Clay calms her down, enables her to sleep through the night and go out in crowds without feeling out of control. Her panic attacks, night terrors and trips to the ER have stopped. She was recently hired as a Veterans Service Officer and Clay accompanies her to work each day. Clay makes Mia feel reconnected to others and has given her a more positive outlook on life. Mia’s children have also benefited from their mother’s less anxious attitude towards them. Clay has become Mia’s savior!
Your donations to The Patriot Fund underwrite programs like Semper Fido which directly improve the lives of our deserving Veterans. Semper Fido locates rescue dogs and retrains them as service animals. Qualified Veterans suffering from PTSD or traumatic brain injury are matched with a dog. After undergoing intense training over six months, the Semper Fido dog earns ADA Service Dog certification, and goes home with its Veteran to become a family. There is never any cost to the Veteran.
Thank you, our generous donors, for supporting programs like Semper Fido and helping our deserving Veterans enjoy a better life “One Dog at a Time!”