Christian Brothers Academy had a special visitor at the annual Mass of the Holy Spirit on Friday, as Air Force veteran Michael Duncan and his service dog, Colt, were in attendance.
In January 2016, CBA Hockey held their first annual Military Appreciation Night to raise $15,000 to purchase a service dog for a veteran. In conjunction with the Lt. Dennis Zilinski II Foundation, which was founded in memory of the 2000 CBA graduate who lost his life in combat, the night was able to meet the lofty goal. Fast forward to June 2017, the service dog was awarded to Duncan and was appropriately named 'Colt' after the CBA mascot.
It was a long, painful road for Duncan before he met Colt. In 1990, Duncan was first deployed as a Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician during Operation Desert Storm. He served in the Air Force for 20 years, being deployed in four subsequent operations, including Operation Afghani Freedom in the early 2000's.
Like so many brave veterans in the armed forces, Duncan has constantly battled PTSD since his retirement in 2006.
"In just a few words, Colt saved my life," Duncan said. "I was not going to survive much longer the way things were going for me, as I was experiencing such a level of stress and anxiety. Colt helps me constantly deal with the effects of PTSD and I know he's been one of the most important changes in my entire life."
His wife and close friends were worried about Duncan, which led them to contact K9s for Warriors in hopes of Duncan obtaining a service dog for companionship. After a lengthy wait, Duncan traveled to Florida last June to finally meet Colt. They took part in a month-long training class to bond, before returning to Duncan's home in Maryland.
Finally, Principal R. Ross Fales welcomed Duncan and Colt to the Academy today, as the CBA student body and faculty gave the pair a standing ovation for their outstanding service to this country.
The CBA community looks forward to inviting Duncan and Colt to the next Military Appreciation Night hockey game, scheduled for January 3rd at Navesink Country Club.