My name is Paul Sullivan and I’m a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a retired police officer. I struggle with PTSD and recurring back problems, but my amazing service dog Sal has given me a second chance at life.

It seems funny to me now but when I first encountered America’s VetDogs, I was a bit of a skeptic. I first heard about the organization when my family and I were attending a Washington Capitals’ NHL hockey game. Captain, the team’s first Puppy With a Purpose® from America’s VetDogs, came onto the ice. As I watched and listened to the descriptions of how service dogs can help veterans with disabilities, my first thoughts were, “This can’t be possible, and it isn’t for me. I have my sight. I’m not missing a limb.”

But the seed was planted and after discussions with my doctors and therapists, I began to understand that a service dog could help ME. And I needed that help. Like many veterans with PTSD, I was experiencing depression. I was isolated and angry. I had terrible nightmares, and I was tired all the time. I was miserable and so was my family.

So I overcame my initial hesitancy and took the plunge. I applied to America’s VetDogs and was accepted. In 2021 Sal came into my life. This was during the pandemic so my initial meeting and training time on campus were limited. But I remember my first night very well. I was having a terrible night terror, and I awoke to Sal practically jumping on the bed trying to wake me up. I remember thinking, “This is going to work.”

Sal is trained to comfort and relax me in bigger crowds and in new situations. But it is the nightmare interruption training that has had the biggest impact on my life. Before Sal, I actively avoided sleep because of my terrible nightmares. I was constantly sleep deprived, always irritable, grumpy, and tired, and it took a toll me and on those around me. But thanks to Sal I no longer worry about sleeping. I’m a better person, father, and husband. I think Sal has given everybody in my life a second chance.

There are always others waiting, so please keep up the good work. I’m going through some changes right now. I’m recovering from my fourth back surgery. Sal has been by my side through it all and he has been such a great help because he is so well trained, so ready, and so eager to work. He’s just an amazing dog.

I’m considering my next career right now. Meanwhile I get to be a stay-at-home dad. I volunteer at school and coach my kids in Little League. And I have a dog named Sal beside me all the time. He was with me when I proposed, when I got married, and at the birth of our child. Sal is an important part of our lives. I know how lucky I am to have him and I’m incredibly grateful to you and others who choose to support us. I’ve been thrilled that I’ve been able to give back by working with the America’s VetDogs team in Washington, D.C., to help them advocate for the Working Dog Commemorative Coin Act.

It’s been great to be part of the team speaking to congressional representatives in both the House and Senate about this great organization and the important work they do. We’ve made real headway and the surcharge from the sale of these coins will provide funding to support the mission so we can get more service dogs to those who need them. You can learn about the Coin Act at Thank you for choosing to support disabled veterans and first responders. Your gifts keep on giving to everyone in our lives. I’m looking ahead with hope now thanks to you and Sal.