Life
Disabled veteran gets dished ultimatum – get rid of PTSD support dog or be kicked out of home
This is heartbreaking.
Marilyn Caylor
04.06.20

Dump your dog, or get the hell out. In a nutshell, those are the words a callous landlord wrote to a 73-year-old disabled vet suffering from PTSD.

And these are the words of the heartbroken vet who faced certain homelessness because he wasn’t about to give up his best friend.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. You know, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do…”

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Willie Williams, a Marine and Vietnam veteran, depends on his support dog, a sweet girl named Diamond, to help him cope with the loneliness, depression, and feelings of isolation that come with PTSD.

“She all I have and I’m she have.”

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Naturally, getting rid of his furry friend was non-negotiable. The Marine would no sooner give up Diamond than a parent would suddenly decide to toss out their 5-year-old toddler!

But, if Willie didn’t do as the letter instructed and ditch his pup, he would be evicted within 10 days.

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With that ultimatum looming over his head, the poor man feared that he would become yet another statistic – a homeless vet.

Which is sadly ironic, given that the apartment complex he lives in was specifically designed to keep vets like him off the streets!

Three years ago when Willie moved into Freedom’s Path Chillicothe, a residential community for at-risk for homelessness veterans, it provided him with both a place to stay and a medical safety net.

The apartments are conveniently located right on the Chillicothe VA Medical Center Campus in Ohio. And for an elderly man like him, that’s actually prime real estate!

“If I have a problem, I get sick, I know the rescue squad is right there. Take three minutes to get there.”

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Things were going really good for Willie and Diamond, until they weren’t.

His world came crashing to a halt when he found an anonymous, handwritten letter on his mobility scooter. There was no name attached, but it was obviously from the private property management company who runs the place.

“Willie, it’s time for you and your dog to go. You will no longer be tolerated. Move out.”

Not only was it unprofessional and unnecessarily passive-aggressive, but it was also possibly illegal.

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The problem all stemmed from Diamond not being a leash. A few neighbors complained about the dog to the landlord, but Willie claims it was just an accident.

“It was an accident when she got in the elevator, ’cause when I’m at my friend’s house, I don’t need her on a leash.”

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Like many veterans who are cast away into the shadows, Willie and his plight barely registered on anyone’s radar.

With no one on his side, he probably felt like he was trapped and alone in enemy territory all over again.

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His only saving grace was Diamond, who was there to support him no matter what.

“If it weren’t for her, I just would probably go into total isolation.”

Out of desperation, Willie called a local news agency, 6 On Your Side, to see if they could help.

“This is not a spot and place I want to be in right now in my life. Like I said, at my age, I don’t know how much time I got. All I want to do is live and let live.”

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The property management firm, Pinnacle, deferred the news team to their lawyers.

But, after the story got out, the local community became outraged that a vet was about to become homeless over a leash!

It even spurred two lawyers from Columbus, Sam Marcellino and Steven Katz, to take on Willie’s case free of charge.

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In the end, Freedom’s Path was never able to prove that Willie had done anything wrong. An agreement was reached, and the terms were simple: as long as Willie agrees to keep Diamond on a special leash called a gentle leader, they can stay.

And that means Willie, who was unwittingly left even more stressed and traumatized by the experience, can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

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By Marilyn Caylor
hi@sbly.com
Marilyn Caylor is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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