Thursday, February 09, 2017
Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan
Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan served in the U.S. Army for 17 years, including multiple tours in Iraq. While deployed, he was injured and left with a fractured back, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a traumatic brain injury (TBI). For his service, he received numerous commendations, including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. However, despite the medals and recognition, Montalvan found himself a broken man.
Once a confident officer, upon leaving the military and rejoining civilian life, Montalvan became withdrawn and depressed. He began using alcohol as a means of coping with the physical pain that he suffered from daily. His psychological injuries progressed to the point of agoraphobia, where Montalvan would require hours to work up the courage to leave his apartment. Montalvan’s life changed forever when he heard about a service dog program that eventually led him to Tuesday, the golden retriever who would become his in 2008.
Tuesday had been trained by an assistance dog program that places dogs with people who have disabilities, including many wounded veterans. In Tuesday, Montalvan found a kindred spirit. Tuesday had not always been a model service dog as a puppy and had required extra training before completing the program. But once Montalvan met Tuesday, he knew his life could only get better.
With Tuesday by his side, Montalvan slowly overcame the debilitating fear of crowds that, before, would have triggered another PTSD episode. Additionally, Tuesday helped him manage his anxiety and could detect changes in Montalvan's breathing, nudging him and bringing him back to the present when a flashback threatened to take hold. Tuesday provided Montalvan with a focal point whenever he needed to interact with others. At home, Tuesday was trained to assist with basic household chores, such as helping Montalvan get dressed, fetching objects, and bracing him while going up and down stairs, among many other daily tasks.
Montalvan became an advocate for wounded veterans as well as people with disabilities. He also became an outspoken critic of the Iraq War. He and Tuesday frequently traveled the country, raising awareness of these issues and advocating for others. Without Tuesday, Montalvan knew that he would not have been capable on his own. Tuesday gave him back the confidence that he had lost, and the two of them shared several years together.
As the result of his injuries from the Iraq War, Montalvan's leg was amputated above the knee in early 2016. He also had serious heart problems. Tragically, later that year in December, Montalvan was found dead in El Paso, TX. He was 43.
At the time of his death, Montalvan's forthcoming and final book, Tuesday's Promise: One Veteran, One Dog, And Their Bold Quest To Change Lives, had been completed and is scheduled to be released in May 2017.
Search the VBPL catalog for Until Tuesday as well as Montalvan's book for children, Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond Between a Soldier and His Service Dog. If you like this book, you might also enjoy Reporting For Duty: True Stories of Wounded Veterans and Their Service Dogs by Tracy Libby (previously reviewed on VBPL Recommends).