“Tuesday Takes Me There” reminds America everything will be OK

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The cover of “Tuesday Takes Me There: The Healing Journey of a Veteran and his Service Dog”

Courtesy of Luis Carlos Montalvan

Reading “Tuesday Takes Me There: The Healing Journey of a Veteran and his Service Dog” is like having a book holding onto the reader’s hand through an exciting, caring and meaningful adventure.

“Tuesday Takes Me There” (with Bret Witter, photography by Dan Dion, Post Hill Press) is the story of a service dog named Tuesday, guiding his best friend, former Army Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván, on a cross-country trip to an important destination. The book starts with Luis and Tuesday staying with Luis’ friend Mike and ends with, well, spoiling the ending would not be nice.

Capt. Montalván also wrote the New York Times bestseller, “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and

the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him.” Before separating from the military, Capt. Montalván illustriously served two tours of duty in Iraq and returned home with physical wounds and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Because of his injuries, Capt. Montalván underwent an above-the-knee leg amputation earlier this year.

“Tuesday Takes Me There” is published at a particularly poignant time in our nation’s history. Political and social dysfunction seem to permeate every aspect of society. Republicans cannot agree about much with Democrats and they cannot seem to agree with other Republicans about much, either.

And let’s not forget the time Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, scared the heck out of a little girl in Texas.

Sofia, 8, was watching the news with her grandmother one day while her mother, Melissa Chance

was at work. Sofia, who is Muslim, heard Donald Trump’s plan to bar Muslims from entering the country and to deport illegal aliens. According to her mother’s Facebook post, Sofia “began collecting all her favorite things in a bag in case the Army came to remove us from our home.”

Motivated by Sofia’s concern, Kerri Peek, an Army veteran living in Colorado, messaged Melissa. Peek asked Melissa to show Sofia a picture of Kerri in her army uniform, and to “tell her I am a Mama too and as a soldier I will protect her from the bad guys.” Many other military veterans also stepped up, offering their protection to Sofia.

With the malfunction and negativity overtaking America and stories like Sofia’s, this writer asked Capt. Montalván why he and Tuesday keep moving forward, keep advocating and writing, especially after Capt. Montalván’s amputation.

Capt. Montalván’s answer perfectly encapsulates the spirit of national healing for which he has long fought, “[O]ur mission of advocacy continues as we believe in the importance of discussing subjects like war and peace, trauma and healing as well as the profound connection we share with our beloved furry spirits. Continual betterment of ourselves, individually and collectively, is an essential truth.”

Continual betterment is one underlying theme of “Tuesday Takes Me There.” Capt. Montalván, shepherded by Tuesday, takes the reader on a wonderful journey, seeing some of America’s greatest sites and using various modes of transportation to do so.

Like any trip, Luis and Tuesday face challenges along the way, but at journey’s end, the reader is left with the comfortable feeling of knowing everything is right with the world. And with the challenges facing America right now, knowing that everything will be okay at the end of the journey is what the Sofias of America need to know.

“Tuesday Takes Me There” is available at all major booksellers, including Barnes & Noble,

Amazon.com and Books-A-Million.

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-59-06-amTimothy Mucciante

Detroit Nonpartisan Examiner

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Flint, Michigan CNN debate protest locks in Media

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Flint water protesters

Timothy Mucciante

A protest briefly closed the CNN media center at the CNN Flint Democratic Debate Sunday evening before the Flint, Michigan CNN Democratic Debate. Accredited press inside the media center were prohibited from leaving the building, for fears that the protesters would storm the open doors. The protesters chanted “No Justice, No Peace,” and many protesters had poster pictures of Michigan governor Rick Snyder with devil horns.

Immediate police presence, along the highly visible jail transport van from the county sheriff’s office, helped control the protesters. The protesters disbursed shortly after they started and the media were free to enter and leave the building housing the media center.

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-11-59-06-amTimothy Mucciante

Politics Examiner

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Michigan competitive marching bands and politics out of tune

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The Plymouth-Canton Marching Band takes first place at 2014 MCBA State Finals

Timothy Mucciante

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Tip O’Neill once opined, “All politics is local.” Tip was referring to getting votes, but the same can be said of how politics affects competitive marching bands, at least in Michigan.

Competitive marching band is a thing. No, two bands do not face each other in battle like in “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies.” Think traditional marching band meets Broadway show, complete with costumes and choreography, throw in competition, then try to look away.

Last year, the Michigan Competing Band Association (MCBA) held the 2014 state finals to judge which participating Michigan high school had the best marching band. The 180 member Plymouth- Canton Marching Band, led by Dave Armbruster and Jon Thomann, took the top honor with a show called “Don’t Bother, They’re Here.”

About five years ago Armbruster suffered a heart attack. Last year he told this writer, “My health became an issue in 2010 just because the show was so elaborate. It took a toll on my health.

Unfortunately, two years later it took a toll on my marriage.” Mr. Armbruster is now divorced, but says he has a great relationship with his ex-wife, whom he called “wonderful.”

Mr. Armbruster says his health is better now and handles the stress by not sweating the small stuff. But funding the marching arts is expensive. Each student’s family is asked to contribute financially to fund the band’s activities, including going to the 2016 Rose Bowl. Mr. Armbruster emphasized no student is excluded for lack of financial resources.

Michigan schools do not consider marching band a “sport” and do not get the same relative funding as some high school sports. High school sports’ budgets make up “approximately 1 to 3 percent of the district’s education budget,” according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

According to Paul Lichau, Michigan State Band and Orchestra Association executive director, 71 percent of the member schools reported receiving less than $5,000 from their school districts. Marching bands struggle to cover the financial shortfall with the help of parent booster groups and outside donations.

Bucking the trend is Grand Blanc Community Schools, which recently gave $50,000 toward the purchase of new marching band uniforms. Underscoring the district’s commitment to the arts, Clarence Garner, Deputy Superintendent, said, “We believe that the arts, in this case marching band, affords our students the opportunity to actualize their own unique genius in a manner that is outside of the traditional academic program, but just as important.”

Last summer, Plymouth-Canton Community Schools also stepped up gave its high school band program $125,000 for “some much needed replacement of band equipment,” according to Mr. Armbruster. He also said the school district currently provides ongoing financial support for “supplies, repairs and transportation.”

Now, back to Michigan’s local politics. Why would Michigan’s Lansing politicians allow an activity that takes skill, stamina, intelligence, talent, teamwork and dedication to be underfunded? Only one obvious answer, many of Michigan’s elected representatives have never seen a marching band show.

Imagine this – a distant drum cadence. Steady, it surprisingly has many of the spectators’ feet tapping in time. Next, 120 high school students enter to that cadence, taking the field during the halftime show, yes taking. The marching band’s collective attitude is “football team, take a break, we got this.”

A show follows in which the students’ hearts race 125 beats per second for about ten minutes. While playing their instruments, the students march, jazz walk, run and walk backwards. Drumline and percussion pit share in the intensity. All of this activity frenzies its way into a final chord bringing the crowd to their feet.

No student was thinking about finances or budgets at last year’s MCBA state finals. Bands who did not even know each other offered “have a good show” or “good luck” to passing marching bands on the way to the field, although they were at a competitive event. That does not happen at football games. Or in politics either.

The next MCBA state championship is Nov. 7 at Detroit’s Ford Field. Note to Michigan politicians – the competition is after Election Day, so attend an amazing show that may convince the legislature to set minimum funding goals for the arts, including the marching arts.

In this era of political, social and cultural animosity and antagonism, maybe marching band nerds have the right attitude about life and competition. Certainly every time these marching artists take the field, they are champions.

To donate to any of the groups referenced in this article, please click on the following links: The Michigan Competing Band Association

Plymouth-Canton  Educational Park

Grand Blanc High School Instrumental Music Department

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Timothy Mucciante

Detroit Nonpartisan Examiner

 

 

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Did Fox News’ Sean Hannity endorse puppy mills?

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Image from the controversial GoDaddy “Journey Home” Super Bowl commercial

www.wisn.com

When is a puppy mill not a puppy mill, but a legitimate breeder? Ask Fox NewsSean Hannity. He called that distinction into question when he was discussing the web hosting service GoDaddy “Journey Home” ad that was recently pulled.

The commercial originally scheduled to air during Sunday’s Super Bowl, showed a Golden Retriever puppy named Buddy being thrown from the bed of a pick-up truck as it drives along a bumpy country road. Buddy is then shown running a long way home, through rain, over railroad tracks and crossing a busy highway. When Buddy gets home his owner picks him up and says, “I’m so glad you made it home, because I just sold you with this website I built with GoDaddy.”

The GoDaddy ad received quick condemnation from animal protection groups like SPCA and social media outrage, according to NPR. As a result GoDaddy pulled “Journey Home” from the Sunday Super Bowl ad lineup.

Last night Mr. Hannity was discussing the outrage over the GoDaddy commercial, which he personally thought was funny. When his guest, Dagen McDowell (who rescues dogs) said the commercial encouraged the use of puppy mills,” Sean Hannity responded, “So what?”

In case Mr. Hannity, who owns a Bernese named Gracie, is unaware, puppy mills, especially online ones, are the bane of legitimate breeders throughout the country.

Hannity’s comments only added to current social media ire over the spot, but this is not the first time the Fox host has been on the wrong side of an issue.

Last April, Hannity threw his support behind Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who claimed he was being unfairly treated by the federal government because he had not paid his grazing fees.

Sean Hannity had to do a quick about face, according to the Washington Post, when Mr. Bundy was caught by a New York Times reporter pontificating about African-Americans, “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?”

Then just recently Sean Hannity continuously referred to the so-called “no-go zones” in Paris. After the Jan. 7 Charlie Hebdo attack, Sean Hannity and Fox News repeatedly stoked the idea that the Muslim community in Paris had taken over parts of the city, having their own courts and law enforcement. There was no objective evidence this was true, and Fox News had to do an all-day mea culpa (albeit on a Saturday, when viewership was lower) apologizing for the misreporting.

Hannity’s ratings have been declining in recent years, and his show was moved from the coveted 9 p.m. prime time spot to the less visible 10 p.m. slot, between The Kelly File and the second daily broadcast of The O’Reilly Factor.

An email sent to a Fox News media representative requesting comment was not answered. And although GoDaddy decided to not run the “Journey Home” ad, Fox News is still showing the ad on their website.

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Timothy Mucciante

Detroit Pets Examiner

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Obama tells Michigan Democrats, ‘When we vote, we win’

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Timothy Mucciante

President Barack Obama was in Detroit last night with one message, “When we vote, we win.”

Speaking to 6,010 supporters on the campus of Wayne State University, the crowd roared when Obama said, “It’s good to be back in Michigan.”

The event was a campaign rally for Michigan Democratic candidates on Tuesday’s ballot. Democrat Mark Schauer is challenging current Republican governor Rick Snyder, and Democratic Congressman Gary Peters is running to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Senator Carl Levin.

If President Obama’s goal was to fire up Michigan Democrats, he was very successful. Twice someone in the crowd yelled “I love you.” The second time, Mr. Obama responded, “I love you too.”

Mr. Obama gave several examples of the Democratic incumbents and candidates’ commitment to Michigan’s families, the poor, the importance of education and the decision to rescue Michigan’s auto industry.

President Obama talked about Michigan’s Republican candidates now asking for votes when they refused to support the auto bailout. “They got a lot of nerve…. If they’re not there for you when you need them, I think you should vote for Mark and Gary instead.

Ultimately Mr. Obama’s remarks focused in on the importance of voting. He followed the same theme established by speakers earlier in the evening, like current U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, who said, “Voting is the great equalizer.”

President Obama underscored that casting a vote chooses a vision for Michigan, saying “…not voting means you are giving away your power. Your precious right to determine the course of the nation.”

With a nod to the other side, President Obama told the crowd, “I want to be clear, Republicans are good people. They are patriots, they love their country.” The crowd started booing at this point. Mr. Obama responded, “Don’t boo, vote!” Everyone cheered.

When the room settled, President Obama continued, “They love this country, but they’ve got bad ideas. I’ve got members of my family who I love that have bad ideas. I still love them, I just won’t put them in charge…You can have them over for Thanksgiving, but you don’t want to put them in charge.”

Mr. Obama gave an example. “One Republican is running for national office, he said, and I’m quoting here…‘You could argue that money is more important to men.’ That’s a quote. Now I don’t know what woman he talked to…I know he didn’t talk to Michelle.”

Well, maybe that’s one Republican who won’t be invited to the White House for Thanksgiving.

To find out where to vote, go to League of Woman Voters of Michigan.

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Timothy Mucciante 

Detroit Nonpartisan Examiner

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“Tuesday Tucks Me In” teaches children about giving back

Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and his Service Dog”

Rating: Five Stars

September 11, 2014  

Can a battle-weathered Iraq War veteran, suffering from multiple physical injuries, including traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), write a children’s book to which kids could actually relate? A better question – can that veteran share his story and interact one-on-one with children effectively?

That’s what I went to the South Lansing branch of the Capital Area District Libraries in Lansing, Mich. recently to find out.

The veteran is Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván and the book is “Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and His Service Dog” (with Bret Witter, photography by Dan Dion, Roaring Book Press.) Due to his injuries and resulting physical and emotional issues, Tuesday is Capt. Montalván’s constant companion and best friend. “Tuesday Tucks Me In” is narrated by Tuesday, telling the reader how he spends his day with Luis.

Juxtaposing his 6 foot 2 inch frame against his 3-foot tall audience of children ranging from 3 to 12 years-of-age was eye-opening. Luis, with Tuesday’s help, effectively and endearingly related to the children and told them in detail about the daily life of a service dog. Luis gently touched on the subject of war and PTSD for less than a minute.

Demonstrating Tuesday’s daily hygiene ritual told about in the book, Luis groomed Tuesday right there in the library. Tuesday started licking Luis’ hand as he was grooming him, and an adorable little girl pointed it out. Luis told her, “He likes that I’m taking care of him…it’s a very natural, good loving thing to do for your dog.”

I have written about Capt. Montalván before, including a previous review of “Tuesday Tucks Me In.” But watching the children form a semicircle around Luis and Tuesday, listening and watching intently, the overwhelming universal truth of Luis and Tuesday’s story suddenly hit me. This is not just a story of an injured Iraq War veteran and his service dog; it is a story as pure and simple as Jesus’ commandment for us to love each other as we want to be loved. Luis’ relationship with Tuesday the Golden Retriever is the living example of the Golden Rule.

A few months ago I interviewed Mike Farrell, death penalty abolitionist and human rights advocate, formerly of “M*A*S*H” and “Providence” fame, about his book, “Just Call Me Mike.” He kindly shared a speech he delivered to the graduating class at the U.S. Air Force Academy last February.

In that speech, he referenced Wangari Maathai, who lived as a poor child in Kenya, but her intelligence transcended her impoverished circumstances. Wangari entered a scholarship program funded by then-Senator John F. Kennedy and studied in both the U.S. and Kenya. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 and during her acceptance speech Wangari reflected on the severe environmental damage our earth has suffered, finishing her remarks by reminding everyone that “our task today is to give back to the children a world of wonder and beauty.”

Wangari’s theme to give back to our children a “world of wonder and beauty” is another iteration of the Golden Rule, and doing so will secure they will do likewise with their children. Just as the children with whom Capt. Montalván interacted were being taught to give back to their future children and animals alike.

Today is September 11th which is recognized by most people as a day to remember a great tragedy. But in 1893 on this day, the Parliament of the World’s Religions met for the first time. One hundred years later, in 1993, the same group adopted the “Declaration Toward a Global Ethic,” which established the Golden Rule as one shared fundamental truth of all religions.

In “Just Call Me Mike,” Mike Farrell recalls a turning point in his life when he realized what he needed most in life were three things, “Love, attention and respect. It’s amazing how simple – and powerful – it can be.”

The significance of Mike Farrell’s epiphany those many years ago is underscored daily by the increased recognition that all people must help and watch out for each other and the earth’s animals. Everyone must be treated equally, as we all would want to be treated. The understanding that the Golden Rule is as simple and basic as grooming a furry best friend in return for a lick on the hand.

“Tuesday Tucks Me In” teaches children about giving back — Detroit Examiner 

Photograph Credit: Angel Vogel

PTSD service dog Tuesday is world’s best tucker

Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and his Service Dog  
Rating: 5 Stars

June 27, 2014

Teaching children about war and mental illness is a challenge at best, so imagine this — a children’s book narrated by a Golden Retriever that tackles war and mental illness while emphasizing good oral hygiene and the important role of service dogs.

“Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and his Service Dog” (by Luis Montalván with Bret Witter, photography by Dan Dion, Roaring Book Press for Kindergarten through Grade 4) does just that in a loving, kind, funny and beautiful way.

Children’s books in the modern day were introduced to teach them about learning fundamentals, language, shapes, color and basic math concepts. But Tuesday Tucks Me In teaches America’s youngest readers what it is like to be an injured Iraq veteran’s service dog.

Tuesday Tucks Me In is narrated by an adorable Golden Retriever named Tuesday and he tells the reader how he spends his day with Luis. Luis is former Army Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván, author of the New York Times bestselling book, “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him.”

Wonderful, warm, well-shot photos take the reader, whether child or adult, through Luis’ day along with Tuesday’s narration. Opening the book is a delight, because the first thing you see is the same thing Luis sees first thing in the morning, Tuesday’s golden snout. And the reader is left with the last image of Luis and Tuesday saying their prayers at the end of their day.

The text is well coordinated with the photos and draws the reader in to share Luis and Tuesday’s day together. Children, especially though who are a little shy with reading, will be absorbed by the photo and text interplay, enhancing the child reader’s ability to form and understand the words.

Tuesday Tucks Me In is more than an entertaining children’s book. Luis and Tuesday teach kids about difficult issues like war and mental health in a gentle and thoughtful way.

Groups like Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR) suggest children should be taught about war and mental health issues in a responsible way. Subjects like the war in Afghanistan, the current escalation of violence in Iraq and returning soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are covered in the news daily and many children are exposed to those broadcasts.

According to ESR, many children as young as four and five years of age would value speaking with trusted adults about what they hear in the news, and reading Tuesday Tucks Me In with young children is an excellent way to open the door to discussing war and PTSD. Educating young children about armed overseas conflicts and the physical and mental health after burn sensitizes these future leaders at an early age about the long lasting effects of war.

Becky Hartlaub wrote a Goodreads review of Tuesday Tucks Me In, “My 14 month old grandson saw the cover and went woof, woof. Then he bent his head down and kissed Tuesday.” Ms. Hartlaub’s grandson, and children just like him, will be making world-affecting decisions 30 years from now. Exposure to books like Tuesday Tucks Me In gives these now-children, then decision makers, a much better basis for understanding a war’s consequences.

There are many good reasons for both children and adults to enjoy Tuesday Tucks Me In. Intellectualizing aside, what I like best about the book is that every time I read it, I feel like Tuesday is tucking me in too.

Photograph Credit: Dan Dion

Back to the future with dogs

March 19, 2014   

A room filled with adorable Golden Retrievers is hard to top, but it happened at the Golden Retriever Rescue of Michigan (GRRoM) fundraiser last Sunday in Troy, Mich. Former Army Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván was the keynote speaker at the event, along with his best friend and service dog, Tuesday.

GRRoM is one of several Golden Retriever rescue organizations in Michigan, accepting surrendered Golden Retrievers and finding suitable homes for them.

Capt. Montalván is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him.” Before separating from the military he served two tours of duty in Iraq and returned home with physical wounds, including traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

One event highlight was Luis’ coaxing Tuesday, a Golden Retriever, to sing a do-re-mi scale for the audience. Tuesday did his best and the crowd cheered.

Luis and Tuesday’s musical collaboration underscored one of Luis’ main themes in his remarks. He pointed out dogs have befriended and worked with humankind for the last thirty-thousand years, as evidenced by cave drawings depicting large dogs working beside humans.

“In the future dogs will be everywhere,” Luis said. The University of Pennsylvania is training dogs to sniff out early ovarian cancer markers, Luis added. Service dogs are also being trained to detect low blood sugar in diabetics and warn epileptics of seizures before they happen.

With so much evidence demonstrating the love, usefulness, value and irreplaceability of dogs, why every day are dogs beaten, abused, mistreated and tortured?

The U.S. Justice Department has charged at least 190 individuals with federal animal cruelty charges. The importance of these charges is the recognition animal cruelty can be a predictor of violence against people as well. Justice Department research shows a connection between animal cruelty and violent behavior.

Unfortunately there is no shortage of examples substantiating the Justice Department’s research, like the case of Jimmy Lee Dykes, who allegedly snatched a boy off of an Alabama school bus. Mr. Dykes held the autistic boy, known as Ethan, in an underground bunker for several days. The standoff ended with the boy’s rescue and Mr. Dykes being shot and killed by police.

Here is the disturbing precursor to the kidnapping — a few weeks before Dykes kidnapped Ethan, he beat a neighbor’s 120 pound dog with a lead pipe because it wandered onto his property. The dog died a week later. Local animal control did question Dykes about the issue, but he was never prosecuted. He reportedly said his only regret was that he didn’t “…beat him to death all the way.”

Recognizing Dykes’ actions as a predictor of future violence, as the Justice Department has said, may have saved five-year-old Ethan from a horrifying and life scarring experience.

Even with the amazing advancements in dog training, building on their natural talents, it is still basic dog tricks and commands to which most people relate. When Capt. Montalván started training with Tuesday, he told his father he was “…getting a service dog that could respond to eighty commands.” His father razed his son in return, “That’s more than you know.”

Luis responded to his father, to whom he co-dedicated his book, “And whose fault is that?”

Back to the future with dogs — Detroit Examiner

Photograph Credit: Susan Vogel

 

 

 

Michigan legislature may not gamble on charity gaming

March 12, 2014

Many Michigan charities count on revenues from licensed charity gaming, like poker rooms and Millionaire’s Nights to fund their good works. According to the state of Michigan, many charity groups use this type of charity gaming, such as animal rescues, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Girl Scouts, Humane Society and veteran programs.

Last year, according to the Michigan Charitable Gaming Division, charity gaming brought in $184,176,756. Who could be against gambling for charity?

Well, some Michigan legislative members to start.

This afternoon in Lansing, Mich. the Michigan legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules will be considering allowing regulations to go into effect which charities say would cut-off an irreplaceable revenue stream.

The for-profit gambling industry in Michigan may also not be enamored with charity gaming. In 2003, according to Crain’s Detroit Business, charitable gaming brought in $3.4 million. The same year the three Detroit casinos generated $1,130,201,887.16. Fast forward several years, in 2010 the Detroit casinos brought in $1,377,929,084.94, which means after adjusting for inflation the Detroit casinos seem to have little growth in terms of gross proceeds.

Charitable gaming proceeds on the other hand increased 540 percent between 2003 and 2012. Michigan’s for-profit casinos may have lost some poker players to charity gaming.

The Golden Retriever Rescue of Michigan (GRRoM) is one Michigan charitable organization that benefits from charitable gaming. According to Lyn Baumann, GRRoM Fundraising Coordinator, 16 percent of GRRoM’s revenue comes from charitable gaming.

Lyn rescued a Golden Retriever named Jasper, so she understands a rescue dog’s love and appreciation. “The golden is that quintessential partner to a family or to an individual and they’re so forgiving and open to being who you need them to be for wherever you are in your life.”

Paddy Ash of Ypsilanti, Mich. knows all about that. In August 2003 he adopted an eight-year-old Golden Retriever named Rocky from GRRoM. Paddy took Rocky everywhere he went, including to Dawn Farm, a young adult alcohol rehabilitation facility.

In a letter written to GRRoM, Paddy describes the effect of Rocky on the clients at the facility for treatment, “One of the most touching incidents was when one of the young clients upon greeting Rocky, simply laid down on the floor and put his arm around him.”

About the same time Paddy Ash and Rocky were visiting young recovering alcoholics facing challenges, then-Second Lieutenant Luis Carlos Montalván was stationed in Al-Waleed, Iraq facing his own monolithic challenge.

The Iraqi border police had detained a civilian man suspected of transporting fake medicine. When the man refused to provide information to an American intelligence team, now retired Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván described what transpired in his bestselling book, “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him,“…they threw him on the concrete floor, elevated his legs, blindfolded him, stuffed a rag down his throat, and poured water into his mouth.” This man’s waterboarding in front of Second Lieutenant Montalván took ten minutes. “That incident is a scar on my mind,” Capt. Montalván wrote.

After two tours of duty in Iraq, Capt. Montalván had serious physical and mental injuries, including a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Tuesday, a specially trained Golden Retriever, assists Capt. Montalván in coping with his physical and emotional injuries. Capt. Montalván’s physical symptoms and agonizing memories of Iraq, like witnessing the waterboarding in Al-Waleed, are mitigated every day by Tuesday’s love and devotion.

Golden Retrievers like Rocky and Tuesday are among the numerous reasons why the Michigan legislature should not restrict charity gaming, and many feel should this type of gaming should be encouraged to assist charitable causes. In the meantime, Capt. Montalván and Tuesday will be helping support GRRoM this Sunday in Troy, Mich. Anyone who would like to buy tickets to the event can go to the GRRoM website at www.grrom.com/luistuesdayevent.html.

Groups dedicated to helping Michigan’s animals need all the help they can get. The proposed charitable gaming rule change reflects a larger conflict between big casinos and smaller charities. But when it comes to furry spirits enhancing the daily life of Michiganders, many decidedly come down on the side of pets over profits.

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Michigan legislature may not gamble on charity gaming — Detroit Examiner

Photograph Credit: Rochelle Lesser

 

PTSD service dogs are a political hot potato

December 11, 2013

American poet Ogden Nash once said, “A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.” Mr. Nash’s sentiment typifies how the Department of Veterans Affairs has handled pairing PTSD afflicted veterans with service dogs — going back and forth through the same door without realizing they are not getting anywhere.

In all fairness to Veterans Affairs, the service dog’s role in society is experiencing a seismic shift. Today service dogs are used not just for the vision or hearing impaired, but for many other physical and mental disabilities, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Recognizing the importance of service dogs, the American Kennel Club is awarding the 2013 AKC Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence (ACE) in the Service Dog category to a handsome Golden Retriever named Tuesday. He is partnered with Capt. Luis Montalván, author of the New York Times bestselling book, “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him.” Capt. Montalván is an Army veteran, having served honorably for 17 years. He spent several combat tours in Iraq and was highly decorated, including two Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart.

The ACE honorees will be given their awards this weekend at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center.

Hoping to clarify the rules about where service dog teams can go, the United States Department of Justice issued regulations concerning PTSD service dogs. Service dog teams can go anywhere the general public may go, referred to as places of “public accommodation.”

It is somewhat befuddling that the Justice Department acknowledges the service dog’s important role to assist those afflicted with PTSD, but Veterans Affairs, part of the federal government, does not recognize the usefulness of these same service dogs for veterans.

Senator Al Franken was inspired by Capt. Montalván and Tuesday’s story so he introduced the Service Dogs for Veterans Act, which directed the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program to pair service dogs with veterans suffering from PTSD.

Unfortunately, Veterans Affairs issued final regulations in April 2012, eliminating the widespread use of service dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD. Later that same year, the VA suspended the program saying it wanted to do its own study to determine if veterans without associated physical disabilities should have service dogs at taxpayers’ expense.

New York Sen. Charles E Schumer in September requested a status update from the VA about when the pilot program study would continue. Perhaps prompted by Sen. Schumer’s inquiry, Forbes recently reported Veterans Affairs will be re-starting the study, hopefully with the first team pairings taking place in May 2014.

In the great debate between God and Job, Zophar is told to, “…ask the animals, and they will teach you.” (Job 12:7) The American Kennel Club presenting the ACE for different categories of canine excellence demonstrates what dogs have taught humankind — a therapy dog can teach a child to trust, a law enforcement dog teaches an officer to not always trust, a search and rescue dog can teach that superhuman seeing and hearing are invaluable, and a companion dog teaches their human about love and snuggles.

Service dogs teach us about unconditional love, commitment and devotion, notwithstanding the VA’s canine skepticism. Thousands of service dogs work throughout the nation daily, toiling tirelessly to make their human partner’s day a little easier, put a smile on her face, helping him forget some atrocious experience. How much more can one of God’s creatures love another than that?

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Photograph Credit: Luis Carlos Montalván