February 6, 2015
Some of you are familiar with my involvement in No Barriers Warriors, formerly Soldiers to Summits. It is exciting to report news that makes us all proud and reflects so highly on the program. Matt Burgess was on our second program when we climbed 19,347' Cotopaxi in Ecuador. It’s safe to say that Matt struggled throughout that trip physically and mentally, but he reached the summit and says the experience was a catalyst to transformation.
Matt graduated second in Military Police School in a class of 110 soldiers before deploying to Iraq. Blast explosions and a reaction to the Anthrax vaccination left him disabled. Matt received a service dog, Brinks, which enabled him to begin to reach again. Brinks wakes him up when he blacks out, and alerts other people when he senses that Matt needs help. After returning from No Barriers, Matt pondered the impact Brinks had on him and decided to devote himself to a new purpose. He founded a nonprofit organization called Freedom Fidos, which provides service dogs to disabled veterans and children at no cost. They also provide training and lifelong support. In the program’s short existance, it has already produced several moving success stories, including the story of Carl Colarusso.
Photo: Matt and Brinks
Carl is a retired US Army veteran with 25 years of service. He has battled numerous health problems since his Army days, including PTSD. As if these health problems were not already overwhelming, his son who was honorably discharged from the Army passed away from complications of PTSD. Devastating news like this is made all the worse when also suffering from PTSD, so Carl’s life began spiraling downward. Carl didn’t know where to turn for help until he saw a feature on the local news about Freedom Fidos. He had been trying to get a service dog for 18 years, but the going price for a service dog was well beyond what Carl could afford, And then he learned about Freedom Fidos. Matt’s organization came to Carl’s house and, as Carl attests, “was true to their advertising, which stated it was absolutely FREE.” Carl’s health has since improved by leaps and bounds, and as Carl explains, “I feel good about myself, and those around me.”
Freedom Fidos can’t produce incredible success stories like Carl’s without the assistance of generous donors and volunteers. To learn more about the great work Matt and his team do every day with our heroic veterans, please visit their website: www.freedomfidos.org. It is also important to note that none of this would have been possible without the incredible programs facilitated by No Barriers Warriors. They are currently recruiting veterans to participate in their 2015 programs in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. If you are a veteran, or know of a veteran, who would be interested in joining other veterans in a life-changing experience, please visit their website: www.nobarrierswarriors.org