SFTT Salutes: Lance Corporal Charlton E. Johnson USMC, and his Canine Companion Aliana (Ali)

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STAND FOR THE TROOPS (SFTT) is honoring service dogs with our Service Dog Salute Photo Campaign that celebrates the unique relationship between Veterans and their canine companions. SFTT recognizes the significant role these support animals play and wants to show-and-tell this fact to the world.

Lance Corporal Charlton E Johnson Weapons Expert USMC, and his Canine Companion Aliana (Ali)

I am Lance Corporal Charlton E Johnson Weapons Expert USMC, Attached to a Weapons Plt in Golf Co 2nd Bn 5th Mar 1st Marine Div also; Spec 4, Weapons Specialist attached to the Scout Plt in Combat Support Company Naugatck CT.

I first met Didi Tolloch the Pets for Vets (PFV) Manager some 4 years ago and after our first interview became the 1st Veteran to adopt a dog through them in the state of Ct. I want you to know right now that Aliana Saved Me and it was not the other way around! She has become my reason for waking up every day, my reason for Living! I suffer from severe PTSD, Depression and other mental issues from my time in the Military.

 At mine and Aliana first meeting we Both Knew that we needed each other it was and still is A Perfect Match made from the Heavens! Didi and PFV have been there every step to make sure we were both taken care of, Didi is the reason why I can keep and maintain the expense of having Aliana!! Mary Jo Duffy (the trainer) should also be mentioned because she has helped with training and helping both of adjust to our new situation!

I would like everyone to know how grateful I am to these two ladies!! If I would win this, it would mean the world to Aliana and I as I am on Disability at the present time. So, thank you for taking your time to read this letter, as you can see I’m not too good with words and it’s not easy to express myself in the right light!! I’m attaching a picture of Aliana and I at ROAR’s 1st Furry Scurry Event in 2016.

“Semper Fi”

Charlton & Aliana Jane

You, too, can share your unique story and photo of you and your service dog, along with a short description (500 words or less) about WHY this canine relationship has made a difference in your life. We’ll post it right here in our Service Dog Gallery. Submissions will be eligible for a SFTT Lucky Dog Award where two teams will receive a year supply of dog food.



  • Submit your story (no more than 500 words, please) and high-resolution digital photo to info@SFTT.org.
  • Include name, address, email and phone number with your submission.
  • For additional info, please contact Maura Kallaway 203-629-0288.
  • The first of the two awards will be announced 9/6 and 9/30, respectively.


By submitting your story (500 words or less) and a photo of your battle buddy, you agree that both items can be posted in their entirety along with any images on SFTT social media streams and www.SFTT.org.




SFTT Service Dog Salute Photo Campaign

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‘Some dogs help people see, while others
help them forget what they’ve seen!’

Stand for the Troops (SFTT), the David Hackworth legacy foundation, is Saluting Service Dogs with a photo campaign launching on PTSD Awareness Day, June 27th, 2018. Veterans and their families are encouraged to submit candid or portrait photographs of themselves and their service dog companion along with a short narrative about WHY this canine relationship has reduced the symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTSD). The campaign will conclude on September 6th, 2018 when one Veteran will be selected to receive a year’s supply of Dog food. The announcement will be made at the Frank J. Robotti Golf Classic luncheon and recipient does not need to be present.

While the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) acknowledges that owning a dog can “lift your mood” and that “All dog owners, including those who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can experience these benefits,” the VA still doesn’t acknowledge the value, both psychological and monetary, of canine companionship to Veterans.

The good news? The Contemporary Clinical Trials has designed the first-ever study to quantify the palliative effects of service dogs for Veterans who suffer from PTSD.

But the SFTT Medical Task Force doesn’t need a trial to know how restorative the relationship between a transitioning serviceman or woman and his/her service dog can be. Whether you’re recently separated from active duty or you’ve been a civilian for many years, we recognize the impact these animals have had on your lives, which is why we fund service dog programs throughout the US.

SFTT’s Service Dog Salute Photo Campaign is about you and your service dog. We know that so many Veterans have experienced the therapeutic benefits of having a PTSD service dog and we want to hear about — and see — your unique relationship with your canine.

Submit your Story and High Resolution Digital Photo to info@SFTT.org and we’ll post both your story and photo.  Dog Food recipient will be notified by phone so be sure to include name, address, email and phone number with your submission.

By submitting your story (500 words or less) and a photo of your battle buddy, you agree that it can be posted in its entirety along with any images on SFTT social media streams and SFTT.org.


Happy 2018!

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Is it too late to wish you all a happy new year? We think not!

Here at SFTT we’ve been busy wrapping up our 2017 initiatives and planning for an even better 2018 with new programs and partners to help Veterans suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD).

During the past year, Stand for the Troops, the Little Organization That Could and Has, hit a major milestone — we turned 20! Twenty, old enough to be a combat soldier which, in many ways we are. SFTT is at war helping American Veterans combat invisible war wounds.

In 2017, we fought for — and aided — our Veterans who suffer from TBI and PTSD by:

  • Securing educational grants 2017 for west coast Veterans wanting to pursue a career in sustainable agriculture and presently, a 2018 grant to continue this program is being reviewed. We’re also working to expand this program to make it available to Veterans on the east coast.
  • Helping fund Attention-Bias Modification Treatment for PTSD research at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute by supporting the Principal Investigator, Dr. Yuval Neria. Dr. Neria’s other related projects establish innovative trauma care for Veterans and their family members, such as Man of War Project & Military Family Wellness Center.
  • Working in concert with the Knights of Columbus on The Frank Robotti Golf Classic where we raised awareness and funds for service dogs. We’ll be awarding money to a local service dog program soon.

In 2018 we plan to continue this good work while introducing a program that focuses on our co-founder, Col. David “Hack” Hackworth’s commitment to safeguarding frontline soldiers with more than lip service. Our new treatment plan, unveiled in the next few weeks, integrates proven medical and wellness therapies to effectively treat combat-related traumatic brain injury.

We’d love to hear from you so please drop us a line at info@sftt.org!


How a Vet Explains PTSD to Children

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Warrior and Children

Many of us when looking at the chronic problem of PTSD which ail our Vets focus primarily on the needs of Vet. Nevertheless, the family circle is also severely impacted and often there is little the Vet can do to make himself or herself understood with their loved ones. In an moving article cited below, Army Veteran Seth Kastle penned a book called “Why is Dad So Mad?” to help children understand or at least come to grips with some of the personal demons they are grappling with.

Clearly, this is a complex problems and affects people differently, but any discussion – particularly with children – can provide a loving framework that may help explain why Dad or Mom are “So Mad” after repetitive deployments. Found below is an excerpt from NBC news on Army Veteran Seth Kastle’s attempt to explain the ravages of PTSD to children:

Why is Dad So Mad?

Mental health disorders can be so complex that many adults can’t comprehend them. So, how exactly do you explain them to children?

Army veteran Seth Kastle encountered this problem with his own young family after returning from deployment. Kastle struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and found it difficult to communicate what was going on in a way that they would understand. So Kastle channeled a relatable activity — reading — and penned Why Is Dad So Mad?, a children’s book about a family of lions in which the father is suffering from PTSD.

The story depicts the father lion’s struggle through a raging fire inside of his chest, which was mirrored from a description of Kastle’s own PTSD. Through the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Kastle raised more than $6,000 to help hire an illustrator and get the book published.

Approximately 11 to 20 percent of recent veterans suffer from PTSD, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Kastle told NBC News that he hopes the project can help other military families who may be going through a similar struggle.

“No matter what, when they’re mad or sad at you, they still love you,” Kastle’s 6-year-old daughter Raegan told NBC News. “There’s always a fire in his heart, but no matter what, I know there’s love.”  read more at : Army Veteran Writes Children’s Book To Explain PTSD To Younger Kids

PTSD and Service Dogs

There continues to be much anecdotal evidence regarding the benefits of service dogs for treating PTSD.  Nevertheless, the VA does not provide service dogs for physical or mental health conditions, including PTSD.  Sure, the VA is researching the benefits of canine therapy in treating PTSD, but Veterans must find organizations willing to support Veterans.

A golden-haired pup named Tuesday gleefully walked through the Performing Arts Center at Crafton Hills College as his human, Army veteran Luis Carlos Montalván, asked him to perform tasks for the hundreds in the audience.

“We’ve been together for six years. Oh boy, what a six years it has been. Never would I have imagined we’d be speaking here in front of you in Yucaipaa. It’s amazing,” he said.

Montalván had enlisted in the Army at the age of 17, and had his first tour of duty in the 1990s.  Seventeen years later and after multiple combat tours in Iraq, Montalván’s military career came to a close. Leaving a life he had wanted to experience before he “could even remember” left him suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Montalván was introduced to Tuesday to help him cope with the realities of wartime and the events following. The two have become inseparable. So much so that Montalván wrote a memoir about his experiences with the pup in 2011 titled, “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him.” The book became a New York Times best-seller.

“When people talk to Tuesday and me about joining the military, I tell them the truth — there’s good and there’s bad. (My opinion) is not from some bitter part of me or extraordinary biased thing, though it could be. In fact, we encourage people to serve.”  Montalván spoke for close to an hour addressing a number of subjects while keeping things age appropriate as there were dozens of children in the audience.

After his speech, Montalván fielded questions from the audience and signed copies of “Until Tuesday” and his newest book, a children’s book, titled, “Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond Between a Soldier and His Service Dog.”  Tuesday, with his reassuring looks and expressive eyes, was by Montalván’s side the entire presentation.

“Tuesday is my best friend,” Montalván said. “Tuesday helps me out every minute, every hour, every day because he’s a pack animal and he wants to see his pack doing well. If I’m not feeling OK, Tuesday will do something to make me feel better. And how great is a hug from your best friend that loves you unconditionally?” Read more: Veteran Luis Carlos Montalván talks PTSD, animal therapy with his dog Tuesday

Army Veteran Montalván is just one of a number of stories of how Veterans have found new meaning in caring for and the friendship of a dog to help him recover his life.  Shouldn’t the VA wake-up and endorse canine therapy?