« Carter Connection

Touching Story About a Veteran and a Pet

by Corey Carter

I got this email forwarded to me and I thought that this would "ring-home" for a lot of people:

My name is Taylor Williquette. I am apart of a group of people with a higher purpose. Our organization is called C.A.R.E for Service Members. C.A.R.E is a non-profit organization created to help care for Service Member's animals while they are away from home. We provide financial assistance to Service Members that are not able to treat their pet's illnesses due to money constraints. Several of the board members work at a local vet clinic so we have been exposed to all sorts of situations over the years. 

There is one in particular that affected the president of our organization, Chanda, so deeply that it has driven her to start this organization. We had a couple bring in a patient for knee surgery. This patient belonged to their daughter who was overseas on duty. The couple told us that this dog was extremely important to their daughter and that their daughter was going to spend all of the money that she earned while overseas to pay for her dogs surgery. 

We could all rationalize this because we too would have done the same for our pets, however, what we couldn't come to terms with was the fact that a Service Member who was overseas risking her life every day for the sake of our freedom was going to spend every last penny she made to pay for her dog's knee. It just didn't seem right. Needless to say, we helped! That service member when she returned state side, came into the clinic to personally thank Chanda and presented her with an American Flag that she flew in Afghanistan in her honor. She wanted to let Chanda know what an impact it had made on her and wrote a beautiful testimonial:

My name is Electronics Technician Petty Officer Second Class (or ET2 for short) Jennifer Gregg in the United States Navy.  I wanted to write a heartfelt thank you to Packerland Veterinary Clinic for their help and support with my dog Sasha while I was on deployment. 

I deployed with a Navy Customs unit alongside First Marine Expeditionary Force to Camp Dwyer in Afghanistan for the majority of 2012.  We supported the troop drawback and helped our fellow Marines and Sailors along with their equipment and gear reach home safely.  Communication home was difficult at best, so when I finally got the phone call that Sasha had hurt her leg and may have had to be put down, I was heartbroken.  Sasha has been a part of our family for over ten years.  I adopted her from the pound when I was in college, and we were inseparable after that.  I couldn’t imagine returning home for the holidays without my little mutt there to greet me by singing and dancing around like crazy.  My Mom brought her to Packerland Veterinary Clinic for one more opinion on her condition, and frantically tried to get ahold of me after walking out the door.  Once I was finally able to get a communication line home, she gave me the great news: Chanda Holschbach, the owner, offered to cover the surgery at cost, with no profit to the clinic!  I couldn't believe it - I was overjoyed!

Sasha was pretty groggy when I got home, since she was still recovering from her ACL surgery and was on a significant amount of pain medication, but I’ll never forget the way her eyes lit up when I walked through the door.  We had to hold her down so she wouldn’t tear her stitches.  Now, a year later, she is still the hyper, crazy dog I remember adopting so many years ago.  Despite being thirteen and slowing down a little, she still has so much life left to live.  She’s active, happy, and despite her injury, still sings, howls, and dances whenever she sees me.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve my country, but it’s something I tend to put in the back of my mind as an active duty sailor.  It’s part of my everyday job, and something I gladly raised my hand and took the enlistment oath for four years ago.  I was surprised and deeply humbled by Chanda’s generous gift to me and my family, and honored to be considered for such a kind gesture simply because I was serving with my fellow Marines and Sailors in Afghanistan.  The techs (I wish I knew everyone by name!) were amazing, and so supportive and understanding.  Everyone in the clinic, from admin to techs to physical therapy, was a blessing.  My mom said Sasha was treated like she had a million-dollar pedigree or was the president’s dog.  She is definitely a million-dollar little girl to me, but I’ve never heard of a clinic treating a little mutt so well!

I currently work with Coastal Riverine Squadron Four, an active duty small boat maritime security squadron.  I have shared my story often with my fellow sailors, many of whom have their own furry family members at home.  Some have endured the heartbreak of losing a pet while on deployment, and wished there was a program their families could have reached out to for assistance.  Stepping off of an eighteen-plus hour flight home to be greeted by cheering family members and supporters is a deeply overwhelming and humbling experience, and it makes those months (and sometimes years) spent away from family and friends worth ever day we were gone.  But nothing compares to seeing your pet for the first time in so many months, the one you couldn’t Skype, write letters to, or call; the one who watched out the window for you every day without fail; the one who you couldn’t explain to that you’d be gone for a very, very long time.  All of the hardships, the long days and longer nights, sand and sweat and dirt fade away when you meet their eyes for the first time.  Thanks to Chanda, it’s an experience I was able to have after my return from Afghanistan, and one I will never forget. 


Little did Jennifer know what kind of impact she had made on all of us, as well! She said that a lot of service members have to give their pets up because they can't find family or friends that are willing or able to care for their pets in their absence. Chanda knew right then and there that she needed to do something about that. We want to make sure that the last thing that a Service Member should ever worry about is whether or not they are coming home to their pets and if they are healthy! Although donations are a necessity for us to have the ability to help people, we are at a higher need for active volunteers. We are looking for exposure for our cause in honor of those who protect and serve. 

We want to start helping others and changing lives! Every day men and women risk their lives for our freedom and safety. This is one way we can try to repay them. We need your help! Together we can change lives and touch hearts. Anything would be greatly appreciated to help our soldiers and their most trusted companions.  

Sincerely,

Taylor Williquette
Vice President of C.A.R.E for Service Members
121 Packerland Drive

Green Bay, WI 54303

Taylor@animalreliefeffort.org. 

Work: (920) 498-2908