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A wounded warrior and his faithful dog

PTSD survivor, service dog bring mission to Tacoma

Northwest Guardian

Published: 03:09PM November 26th, 2013
A wounded warrior and his faithful dog

Somer Breeze-Hanson/Northwest Guardian

Former Army captain and author Luis Carlos Montalvan (right) and his service dog Tuesday, visit with people at the University of Washington-Tacoma Bookstore Nov. 20.

TACOMA — Former Army captain and New York Times bestselling author, Luis Carlos Montalván, travels the country with his loyal companion, “Tuesday.”

The 7-year-old service dog and subject of Montalván’s book, “Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him,” never leaves his side for the many events the pair attends. But the inseparable duo aren’t on a book tour — they’re on a mission.

“What the book is about and what we’re about is a number of issues that take on an advocacy role,” Montalván said. “Service members, veterans and their families are one key demographic that we talk a lot about with my background. We talk a lot about mental health, trauma and recovery.”

Montalván and Tuesday visited the University of Washington-Tacoma bookstore Nov. 20 for an event to benefit the Prison Pet Partnership Program of Gig Harbor.

He discussed his personal experience with life after war and how Tuesday saved him from his mental health issues stemming from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

Montalván served in the Army for 17 years as an enlisted communications specialist, military policeman and infantryman until he earned a commission in 2003.

As an ROTC cadet, Montalván trained at Fort Lewis and returned to the base on subsequent TDY assignments.

He deployed twice to Iraq and suffered physical and mental wounds. His decorations include the Combat Action Badge, two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal for Valor.

Montalván was paired with Tuesday through a service dog program in 2008. The loyal pup knows a multitude of commands like turning on lights and opening doors, but is also a trained caretaker in that he can sense the onset of anxiety in Montalván.

The pair have been together for five years, and each year their bond grows stronger. Tuesday isn’t just a dog to Montalván. He’s his caretaker, best friend, confidante and an uncanny space heater.

Montalván recorded his experiences in a book for a variety of reasons, some of them therapeutic. It’s a bonus that the book has become a best seller and his story has helped so many others.

“Mental health issues are very difficult for people to talk about publicly,” he said. “We hope through some of these discussions, people are emboldened to get help ... Recovery from trauma is possible.”

Prison Pet Partnership volunteer Tracy Vaughn and other volunteers read “Until Tuesday” in their book club and attended the event to meet the author and subject of his story. Vaughn’s father was stationed at Fort Lewis and her daughter is scheduled to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point in May.

For Vaughn, Montalván’s book brought back memories of growing up in an Army family.

“(My dad) didn’t talk about it much,” she said. “Being an Army brat, that was normal. It was like old home.”