Surf Dog Ricochet and Staff Sergeant Persons B. Griffith IV (Ret) traveled from their homes in San Diego and Texas to Washington, DC last week.
They were invited to the Pentagon to be interviewed by the Office of U.S. Marine Corps Communication.
Ricochet lay at Griff's feet as Sergeant Tara Bray began the videotaped interview.
The focus was on how Ricochet, a certified goal-directed therapy dog through Pawsitive Teams, has helped Griffith in his battle against PTSD.
The two met through the Naval Medical Center San Diego's canine therapy program.
"Ricochet was like a mirror for me. It's like she reaches in with both her paws, grabs what's really going on inside of you, pulls it out, and then forces you to deal with it", Griff said.
Sergeant Bray also asked Griff to describe his experience in the Marine Corps during his two tours in Afghanistan.
He took a deep breath and began talking about Lieutenant Colonel Mario "Sugar Bear" Carazo, his Officer in Charge, during his nine-month deployment in 2010.
Griff said he drove Lt. Col Carazo to what ended up being his last combat mission. He was killed when his helicopter was shot down while providing air cover for an infantry battalion.
"I never really had a chance to deal with it right after it happened," Griff said.
In a stunning twist of fate, it was learned that Lt. Col. Carazo's wife, Jennifer, and their children live in San Diego, where Ricochet lives.
Within a couple of hours, airline reservations were made, a fundraiser was established, and Griff was flown to San Diego.
Ricochet gave Griff the chance he didn't have in 2010. The opportunity to mourn, the chance to heal, and the chance to commiserate with Jennifer about Sugar Bear.
When Griff was asked how he felt about meeting Jennifer, he said: "there's a sense of comfort in knowing his family is well and continuing the work he was most passionate about; making sacrifices to help others."
"Being in Jennifer's presence was like getting to spend time with Lt Col Carazo. Sitting and connecting with her allowed me to say goodbye to him, which I never had before."
"Meeting Griff was an absolute blessing! He has given me a real connection to my late husband," added Jennifer.
Working with a Surf Dog
Griff is now on the Board of Directors for Ricochet's non-profit, Puppy Prodigies. He also holds the position of PTSD Advocate Warrior (PAW).
His work with Ricochet is three-fold:
- To put an end to the 22 veterans a day who take their life by suicide;
- To fight the stigmatization of PTSD;
- To help others find their way through the healing power of dogs;
In addition, Ricochet and Griff are featured in the new IMAX film, "Superpower Dogs," which showcases surf therapy and the connections between humans and dogs.
Several years ago, Jennifer founded a non-profit called The Sugar Bear Foundation in honor of her late husband.
Its mission is to support the surviving spouses and children of fallen US military personnel by providing assistance to support programs that meet their needs and foster their personal, emotional, and social well-being.
If you have PTSD, please reach out for help by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and press 1.