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My Modern Day Hero

  • Date Submitted: 04/22/2013 02:07 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 66.9 
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My Modern Day Hero

What is a modern day hero? A modern day hero is someone that selflessly gives their time and/or resources to a person that needs that help. They help even when they know they have nothing to gain from it. My modern day hero who does exactly that is Mary Cortani, founder of the nonprofit organization, Operation Freedoms Paws, that helps veterans train their own service dogs in northern California. Cortani said "It's hard enough to come out of the service and get back into civilian life. But now they have an injury that people don't understand. They have to find a way to balance what they're feeling, what they've experienced, with everyday life."
Dogs can, over time, be trained to assist veterans in a variety of ways. For example, the dog can wake the veteran from nightmares, turns off lights and help create space between the veteran and others in public places. The dogs also help veterans keep their anxiety level down in stressful situations. The veterans "are taught to focus on the dog, read the dog's body language, not to worry about the environment," said Cortani. "If they start to have a panic attack because they're getting overwhelmed or the anxiety is so strong, they'll actually stop and kneel down and hug the dog."
Through her program, Cortani matches veterans with dogs from shelters or rescue groups. Then she helps them train the dog. "When a veteran trains their own service dog, there are immediate benefits right off the bat," she said. "They have a mission and a purpose again. It gives them something to focus on and to complete. It gives them a sense of security and safety. ... They know they're not alone. They've always got their buddy at the end of the leash." Recently, Cortani started a mentoring program to teach some of the veterans how to train new participants. Ultimately, she hopes to employ these veterans in several new locations throughout the country.
A modern day hero is an everyday person who changes the world for...

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