Retired Staff Sergant Kerry Clewell entered active duty in the U.S. Army as a Cavalry Scout in 2005. After a tour of duty in Iraq from 2006-2007 with the 25th Infantry Division, Kerry was accepted into the prestigious Explosive Ordnance Disposal school, where he was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of experiences from his deployment. He was subsequently removed from the school and reassigned to the 10th Mountain Division, where he was deployed for a second tour of duty, this time to Afghanistan. On that deployment, in April 2009, Kerry was struck by an improvised explosive device, which left him with Post Concussion Disorder and additional PTSD symptoms. Kerry was retired from the Army in 2011 and returned to school to pursue a degree in Athletic Training.
Kerry believed that a companion dog would be a great fit for him and his family to alleviate his anxiety and the stress he often feels at night. And so when he contacted a German Shepard rescue agency, they referred him to Companions for Heroes.
“The process was incredibly smooth and went much faster than I thought it would,” Kerry said, of the steps he took to adopt his German Shepard, Riley. He refers to her as “Rye,” after his favorite post-work beverage.
Since Kerry is an athletic trainer, he has the freedom to take Rye with him to many of the places he goes for work, including when he coaches high school baseball games. She is an important part of his team in the dugout.
Often, integrating a new dog into a family can prove difficult, especially when one suffers from anxiety. Companions for Heroes and Red Stick German Shepard Rescue in Baton Rogue were integral in both assisting in Kerry’s adoption of Riley as well as with her training.
Kerry states that Rye can be a bit anxious and protective when she meets new individuals; this trait actually puts him at ease.
The love and trust Kerry has for Riley is very apparent, and thanks to Companions for Heroes another rescue pet has been saved, and the life of a veteran has been positively affected.