VETERAN REFRAMES HIS FUTURE THROUGH ART THERAPY
& SERVICE DOG PARTNERSHIP
MEET STAFF SERGEANT Val Schaefer:
Val Schaefer is a veteran of the Iraq war who served as a Sergeant in the US Marine Corps and Staff Sergeant in the US Army. Val's struggled with PTSD has been a challenging journey, but today he works in missile systems operations as a government contractor with Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Along with the art therapy he enjoys through his work at ValCo Ornate Frames—a small business he launched in 2018, specializing in handcrafted Modern Victorian art frames—Val's service dog Frankie continues to play a crucial role in managing PTSD.
Val began his partnership with Frankie in 2021—
to this day he still calls her his new battle buddy.
"FRANKE AND I ARE A TEAM. SHE IS MY BATTLED BUDDY. I MUST REMAIN HEALTHY TO OBSERVE HER AND RESPOND TO HER NEEDS AS WE NAVIGATE LIFE TOGETHER."
FINDING NEW LIFE WITH THE GIFT OF A SERVICE DOG.
Val has written a full letter to Project 2 Heal, describing his experience with Frankie—who was trained as a service dog by Fidos for Freedom—however here is a wonderful excerpt:
She inserts herself into my field of view with prolonged deep eye contact. If I don’t recognize her message, she talks to me with light barking. I feel that she is concerned about me and telling me to take care of myself. Since realizing Frankie’s behavior is an early warning indicator, I’m now able to self-assess early and proactively make life navigation decisions that lead to a much more balanced life. Without her, I'd surely continue pressing forward only to arrive frayed.
She is deeply invested in me. I am her priority. I am who she chooses to be with when my home is full of loved ones. During a late evening in the workshop, Frankie is known to retreat to the bedroom for comfort but always comes down both flights of steps to check on me almost hourly. It feels like she is telling me to take care of myself and to come get some rest.
She is a life gift.
Staff Sergeant Val Schaefer
United States Marine Corp.
United States Army
Monthly donors—which we call, "Healing Pawtners"—are the foundation of Project 2 Heal and our mission of reducing the cost and time it takes to place a service dog with a person in need. We're the only nonprofit in the country dedicated to breeding, nurturing, and donating Labrador Retriever puppies to become service dogs for veterans, children with special needs, and adults with disabilities. Our work can change—and in some cases, save—lives of people in need.
Through your monthly donation of $10, $30, $50 or $100, you provide Project 2 Heal with a consistent and reliable source of funding to allow us to meet our mission.
As a Healing Pawtner You'll Enjoy:
Knowledge that your donation will be immediately put to work.
Monthly "Pup-Dates" via email.
Opportunity to tour and visit our facility.
Access to playtime with our service puppies in training.
Car magnet to display and show your support.
Ability to change or suspend your donation at any time.