Tampa, Florida - A Tampa man is making a difference in the community by helping veterans readjust to civilian life.
Mike Halley joined the Marine Corps in 1960, at the age of 17. He was stationed in various places during his eight years of service, including two tours in Vietnam during the war. A door gunner for a helicopter unit known as the "Raging Bulls," Halley returned home just days after the Tet Offensive.
Readjusting to life away from the frontlines was difficult for Mike, who continues to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Mike spent nine years living in a 9x12' room, not knowing what was wrong with him.
One day his sister threw a Doberman pinscher into the room and told him to figure out what to do with it. That was the day, Halley says, he began his recovery. Since then Mike has traveled the country, gotten married, and realized his life's mission - to provide service dogs to military veterans in need.
Mike and his wife Pam started Halley's K9's for Veterans in October 2008. Since then, they have helped over 100 dogs and veterans "one team at a time." All of the dogs are rescued from abusive homes and given shelter in Mike's 15-kennel, locked down compound. While they specialize in Doberman pinschers, Halley's team has worked with a variety of working dog breeds and they've also retrained small dogs as well.
However, when it comes to pairing up dogs with veterans, Mike's methods are unique.
Rather than letting the veteran select the dog he or she would like to adopt, Mike lets the dogs pick their owner.
"Dogs are like women," he says. "Sometimes they like you, and sometimes they don't."
Once paired up, the veterans and their new best friends complete a two week, intensive training program at Mike's compound in Tampa. At the end of the two weeks, the vets and their pooches head home to begin their new life together.
To donate visit their Facebook page.
Written by 10 News Intern Adam Pages