Theresa was on the wait list for a mobility service dog from America’s VetDogs, a Smithtown-based nonprofit that provides service dogs for veterans and first responders with disabilities. They were able to match Theresa with a service dog specifically trained to assist her in everyday mobility tasks. These include daily tasks such as walking, negotiating stairs, retrieving, and positional cues that can alert if someone is approaching from behind. Oscar also provides Theresa with comfort during loud noises like thunder.
Just days before she was set to fly to New York, that hope was suddenly dashed. Theresa’s home state of Ohio was put on the list of states New York requires a quarantine for 14 days. There was no way she could quarantine for fourteen days before her training with the dog was set to begin, and if she could not come from Ohio to get the dog, it would go to the next veteran on the list and her long wait would begin anew.
Theresa was scheduled to fly to New York on a free charity flight provided by nonprofit organization, PALS. Volunteer pilot and Board member of PALS, Terry Flood, was assigned to Theresa’s return flight. When he heard that it was being cancelled, he was upset for Theresa and felt compelled to do something. After doing some research, Terry was able to assist Theresa in applying for a waiver to the COVID-19 travel quarantine requirement. Both Terry and Theresa were overjoyed when the waiver was granted!
On a free flight from PALS, Theresa arrived in New York on Sunday, September 27th and met her service dog Oscar. “Oscar will make a big difference in my life,” said Theresa. “As long as Oscar is by my side, I’m all good.”
“We are thrilled to have been able to place mobility service dog Oscar with U.S. Army Veteran Theresa Reer,” said John Miller, President & CEO, America’s VetDogs, “We’re thankful to the commitment and flight PALS provided Theresa, so that she could place her with Oscar who will help her life a life without boundaries.”
After weeks of preparation and seven days of onsite training with the dog at America’s VetDogs, Terry and Co-Pilot, Robert Fisher flew Theresa and Oscar back home. “It’s my honor to be able to help someone who has given so much to our country. That’s what the PALS for Patriots program is all about,” Terry said. “Two great Long Island nonprofits came together to make this happen for Theresa, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Please donate today and help missions like this continue.
PALS began its mission to provide free medical, compassion and veteran flights back in 2010. It was the dream of our founders, who as pilots felt their skills and resources could help people with free air transportation for medical treatments.
That initial inspiration and the first PALS flight has now grown to over 23,000 flights for over 2,300 families and an astounding 5.4 million miles flown. Quite an accomplishment for a free air travel organization a little over 10 years old.
Over the years and over many missions, we’re honored and humbled to hear how many lives we’ve been able to impact. Often times when a person is diagnosed with a life-changing illness, the care they need is inaccessible by car due to the repeat trips and length of each trip. When these families and individuals reach out to PALS, our team of volunteer pilots, flight coordinators and mission assistants go to work to make free travel to a medical facility or hospital possible. The stories we hear and our patients send us are all the reward we need.