MEDIA COVERAGE WE ARE IN!
'Coming Home': Auburn veteran hosting benefit concert to
help others heal
Veteran Recovers Optimism Through Mental Health Telephone Support Program
Some of What We are Up To!
This is a Taste For Our Book Coming SOON!
Ciara saved my life, if I never I had her after my three failed attempts with suicide, she totally transformed my life. We had the chance to meet the Penn State football team, see Janet Jackson, Brad Paisley, Toby Keith, and Sawyer Brown just to name a few. Our hearts beat as one we're Heart and Soul in fact I tell people that I believe that her heart and soul were connected in utero, I know maybe some find that hard to believe but she's a different kind of Service Dog she's not the one that people just can’t pet. You see she is way more than a Service Dog and serves way more than me. She serves everyone she comes in contact with and once you have met her you have met a part of Heaven because she is my Guardian Angel. If it were not for this my Brown Eyed K9 Girl, this after so Heroically serving our Great Nation overseas in harm’s way, I can Guarantee I wouldn't be here writing this book today because she not only saved my life, but transform my life literally, physically, mentally, and every part of it.
My life was given a kind of CPR from a 4 Legged Creature that in her own Right who has The most Amazing Survival Story, but Lays Down Her Life For Me and Now Every Day Shows me The Love Compassion and Unconditional Love that NO Human Posses. I would not be able to see my two beautiful girls today, they would not have me here today had it not been for her my music, my writing, and the Hand of God intervening connecting the two un most likely candidates to be Teamed up. The Journey You all are about to Witness is of two an “Unexpected Bond”!
It's been a huge part of that, but it was Ciara that literally brought me out but the deepest darkest place I've ever been in my entire life. I cannot even say it was a black hole, because when I looked up, down, side to side everything was pitch dark. It was nothingness. This is our story, our journey and we invite you along with us as I tell, “The Most Amazing Modern-Day Love Story of the Century”.
I just HAD arrived home from emergency leave from the Army. As I stood behind his wheelchair Pushing him on that long dirt driveway, he said son Please stop. then he said something to me that was kind of funny which did not really surprise me because my father was always joking about things. He said son, what are those things you all sing in the Army when your marching. I said oh you mean cadences. He said yeah those. He said sing some of those for me. So, as I started pushing him again, I started singing some of the real funny cadences. As I pushed the wheelchair marching in time, as he kept the cadence and he repeated after me like any good private, moving his arms. These moments will forever be sketched in my mind forever. I believe it’s moments like these that no matter what happens to our minds God allows us to be able to recall if only for ourselves to help keep us going.
We were laughing and having such a good time. The cancer had really taken its toll on him now, but I knew the moments I had were truly special and I didn't get many times to be with him or even talk on the phone as much anymore. So, I knew this was special according to the doctors was maybe my last “WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE” and what a Special one it turned out to be.
You see here is a little background on Dad. The Friday before my father was diagnosed with his brain tumor, he had worked a 16-hour shift at the Clarks Summit State Hospital where his patients and staff loved him like family, and he served over 25 years. He went from instantly being depended on by so many on a Friday to on Sunday totally being dependent for everybody for everything in his life down to the smallest things we take for granted. This was very humbling for a man such as my father, but he had great dignity, and I must say handled it the best anyone could that was put in a situation of that magnitude.
When the doctor told him, he had 6-9 months to live, through tears in his eyes, he looked back at the doctor and said. No doctor you have that all wrong you see, because I promised my Grandchildren, I would take them to Disney World.
And you know my Father was the glue that held our family together and not only did he follow through on that promise but blessed us with about 2 and a half years more.
So, at that moment I slowed up the wheelchair and stopped my throat was chocked up as I was very emotional for what was to come out at that moment, and I said Dad, now it is my turn. You did not know it, but I am a singer songwriter, and I have been Ever since I was a teenager. I wrote my first song when I was a teenager and I wondered if you would allow me to sing it to you? I was holding back tears in anticipation of the answer that came as quick as I asked it as fast as a rabbit in front of one of our hound dogs I was so nervous, but it seemed like forever. He said son I would be honored to hear it.
For the first time in my life I sang the words to someone that was so special to me. I revealed something finally that I had held in for over 20 years. I had a voice if for only that day, that moment right there an audience of one! I felt empowered, I was letting somebody know in my own way and I felt free, Free from what I did not exactly know at that moment in time. I could not put my hand on it. This I did know, overtime I would figure out that I had many things over my life that I needed to become free from, And I needed find my voice, something of which I knew I hadn't had in any part of my life up until that moment of empowerment that my Father hearing me sing allowed me, but once I found it look out world it was on, because I knew it would not just be myself that I was a voice for. I would be a voice for all those in the world who had never had their voice, or felt strong enough to use theirs, I wanted to empower others like I felt in that moment as I sang to my father.
Sawyer Brown a Country Music Group has a song called “The Walk” and it depicts my Father and I’s whole Life together speaking about a long dirt driveway at the end of his life. I sing it at many of my concerts in honor of my Father as he and I seen them together and loved music. I hope one day to Sing it with the Lead singer “Mark Miller” from “Sawyer Brown”.
You see because just as I thought it was less than two weeks and my father would pass on after our walk. But no one else would know about our conversation. I asked my mother is she minded if I sang a song at his funeral. She graciously granted me permission.
That day when I stood in the funeral home and sang those words “Jesus is The Key” the very first song I had ever penned in my entire life as a teenager, but never revealed until only weeks before to the man I admired all my life for the first time. Then I pinned my U.S. Army awards on his chest after proving so proudly to him over many years that he, yes he made me this Man, This Father, this Soldier, Provider who possessed all this Character and Dignity that I was today.
He taught me in life how to not just live life, but to live life with joy and to make each moment special and each person feel the same way. He taught me how to make them feel as if they were someone so special and loved no matter who they were, it did not matter their social status, their color, their race, or religion. Once you met my father, even if you passed him on the street or you were the one to cash him out at the local store you were someone special and would never forget that moment if it was the only time your path ever crossed with Roger C. Haynes SR.
That day as I sang My Song I Escorted my Dad Through Heaven's Gates as the good Lord so graciously accepted him, truly knowing he could have been used in such a powerful way down here still but at that moment as I raised my right hand slowly from The Stance of attention next to his casket. I felt the Voice of God whispering in my ear saying Sergeant Haynes, Eric, my child, the mission is yours now, your father's time here is complete. He will be safe with me now watching over you as I will.
Just as Joshua had to carry the torch when Moses passed on, and lead the Israelites through the Promised Land, you now have your own Mission and have lots of work to do, l we will never leave you alone. As I lowered my salute, I had no idea what would lie ahead. This I could tell you, If I had not had the Lord my Father in Heaven looking out for me Divinely all these years this I do know. I would not be here sharing Ciara and I’s Journey with you all today, because I would have never survived many times over.
It would not be for another eighteen more years again before I would re-emerge with my voice singing Solo in song what I wrote. I went back into mental hiding not having my voice, it would not be until My “Brown-Eyed K9 Girl Guardian Angel” would save my life, and sweep me off my feet with her amazing Paws, and Never let me go again into harm’s way.
She is a former US Army Special Forces Bomb sniffing dog that now she has a different mission. The two of us are a team we are Unstoppable we have the love story of the century bigger than any Romeo and Juliet better, than any soap opera. “Ciara Heart of a Service Dog” is sweeter than any Queen you will find at Disney World, she has a bigger Heart than the moon, and she has Unconditional Love for all she meets. Thank you for joining us as we share our journey with you.
ENLISTMENT TALK WITH DAD
As we sat together on the back deck that Emerson my cousin, my brother Roger, myself, and father had built together with our own hands not too many years before sharing coffee that morning.
I was newly married just over a year, had a young baby and I had requested that morning time with my Father. Some small talk was happening about rabbit dogs and deer hunting, and the annual summer BBQ Picnic that happened at my parents’ house every year.
Then I brought up the subject at hand. I said Dad I want let you know I signed up for the United States Army. He said oh good you will go one week a month.
I said no Dad I signed up for Active Duty, I leave for basic training in November. He said what? He said but what about the land, what about staying here on the homestead?
Then he said a statement that I'll never forget for the rest of my life and he did something that I never seen my father do before. As droplets of tears started to go down his cheeks, he said to me, “Son what did I do wrong as a father in raising you”, That you would leave the homestead and join the Army?
I looked at this man that I had admired all my life. This man that made me who I was he had become my coach, my cheerleader, my fishing buddy, and most of all he had been there for me and spent time with me, something I would always remember for the rest of my life, and I would make sure that I would instill it in my children the importance of time spent with them was something that was never a lost cause, no matter what we were doing.
I said Dad you have it all wrong it's not that at all what you have done wrong, but it is exactly the thing you've done right! You have shown me what it is like to lead as a man, to be a husband, to be a father to be a provider in saying this I'm taking the steps I need to take care of my family in a proper way. So no by no means don't ever feel that you ever, ever have done anything wrong in the way you have raised me here, because that is not what has happened. I'm doing exactly what you taught me to do Dad and I am so proud to be your son Dad.
He then said, well if you stay your mother and I can pay off all your bills, and you can pay us back monthly. I can get you a job at the State Hospital, (Something that was sort of a tradition, for a lot of family).
I said no Dad it is not that, I have to go and establish myself. I am becoming my own man, creating my own family and life together and I will be back to visit and things.
This was a very tough day for my Father and concept for him to accept. It was almost as if I had betrayed the family tradition, but I knew it was what I had to do, I had a peace about it, but the Army would become my family also and still to this day remain and will until my dying day, some seem closer than blood. Until you experience it you can’t criticize it or reject the statement, but once you become a brother or a sister at arms your whole life takes on different meaning and you bond in a way that is so different beyond words. It would take many years for my Dad to accept the fact of my being in the Army, and one time he even came to one of my Graduation Ceremonies. “You can’t force anyone to love something you do, but you can love them in spite of them not loving what you do, and pray one day they may see what you see as beautiful.”
Mortar Attack 2005
There are some things in your life that stay etched in your mind forever, some you want to hold onto forever, yet others haunt you worse than any Hollywood producer could ever dream up in their imagination, this night would be one of those nights for me.
I got ready for bed just like any other night. I lived in a mill van which was basically just a big metal box is the best way to describe it. Just imagine a big cargo ship floating down the middle of the Saint Lawrence Bay with hundreds of metal boxes on it, that was my home, one of those tin cans about 15’X12’. With about eight other guys from Fort Sill OK from a Stryker unit. But this night the boys were out on patrol and I would be by myself.
I had no idea what I was in for but something that would haunt me my whole life.
I got ready for bed just like every other night pretty much my brown t-shirt and briefs. It wasn’t like PJ’s back home, I didn’t usually at home sleep on my back here I did you always want to be ready you never knew what was going to happen with My M-16 right by my side my arm wrapped around it like braids in a woman's hair so snug and carefully woven for her special someone all the way down locked and loaded to the barrel as far as my arm and hand could reach usually sweating. You never knew if the Enemy would breach the security gates by sneaking in, that's the way it was when you're over there, the enemy was all around you, and you had to be ready At any moment if you wanted to make it back not being escorted in a body bag.
I'm not saying all my other comrades where not ready or did not go down without a fight, trust me it’s not that at all, we all have that drive. I say I would, and I had enough happen to believe that my words that I feel it true, honestly I am not worried what others believe. It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.
But certainly they were on high alert when the enemy struck over there, the problem is they are cowards and they don't follow Geneva Convention or any other rules, but we Americans had ROE Rules of Engagement regulations which makes it difficult for those of us actually follow them.
Hearing the sounds of small-arms fire was just like pretty much any other night I will call it the lullaby for the Iraq sleeping soldier. You have to deal with it in a way let your mind and body at some point becomes numb securing it otherwise What's 365 days will drive you insane.
As I started to lul off to sleep listening to a relaxation CD my sister Karen had sent me trying to drowned out the firefight out of nowhere it was almost like the sound two 747s engines trying to land at the same time one coming in from my left and the other for my right sound like they were both only a few feet from me, and then the sound was like they both collided together missing their mark on the ground an exploding. The sound was so overwhelming louder Being in a wind tunnel that NASA could have ever created an explosion Rock my whole room the metal cot I slept on set me about 2 feet in the air off of the cot along with my weapon.
After a moment or two upcoming out of shock or rather just moving in motion still in shock but knowing I had to do something I sat up on my cot the pitch darkness of the night it was the darkness that you could imagine absolutely no moon the only light I had was that a little small red laser light size of one that you would use play with a cat let him follow it around. or when you're at War even the smallest of things to get you killed that includes light sensitivity do you have to make sure the enemy can't find you so we were issued very small lights that I had attacked directly to me at all times.
At this very moment as I write and think back on it I can't tell you not only how scared I was, but how scared I was to think I wasn't sure if my two girls would ever see their Dad come back home alive or in a casket with an American Flag draped over it, because what I was going to do next I didn't know if I would be alive after, and I had no idea what had just happened outside. This I did know, I had to go check on other people and assess the situation and doing so I could be putting my life at risk, but I want you to know being a U.S. Soldier, people that sign up the for military, men and women are of the Armed Forces take the oath to protect and defend the freedoms that we all live with every day we know full well exactly what that means and if you ask anyone that, truly what's our country they will tell you honestly if they serve or have served and they will tell you, some very humbly that it could and for many mean the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE YOUR LIFE.
As I picked up my weapon is slowly open up the door I made my way out behind the back where I heard the explosion. what I found would be something that would totally for me yet would be something that would be stopped that would be an image that I'll never forget less than 50 feet away from metal box I was sleeping in what does start I'll be huge crater that to my estimate when I walked around it was big enough that you could fit 3 full size tractor trailers front to back both ways as well as deep wise tractor trailers.
What happened the enemy sent a mortar a makeshift bomb that they put in tubes and direct them. there's a problem if they have had a closer Grid coordinate they can get really good at narrowing down the target Forward operating Base (FOB). The biggest problem was on our base we had a hospital. So they were always sending over mortars and testing out trying to hit our Hospital and where the helicopters would land bring it into patients.
As I walked around the crater thoughts were going through my head. I guess one of the first thoughts because I knew I have been spared from that night at least for that moment. After I made sure everyone was okay, I went back in I didn't go to bed right away it really rattled me. I took out a pen and paper that night for the first time I wrote what no Soldier ever wants your loved one to see or have to read when I get back. I wrote that dreaded letter of everything I love my girls in what I would never get the chance walking them down the aisle or did she teach them how to drive received them go out on the first date the graduate high school or anything. Although special details life that everyone in the our country get the opportunity usually do with their own family because of the sacrifices that are made every day by the men and women of the Armed Forces, I knew the real possibility at that moment in time there was the possibility my girls may end up doing these things without me.
So when anyone kneels or decides they're going to disrespect our flag but yet they want to play on a team and United States of America You can tell them from me that they need to think again because they are disrespecting. They are not making just voicing an opinion (there are real people’s lives whom sacrificed that they are stomping on) so they need to think again as to the types of forums where they voice their opinions. their voice known they are not standing for something they are stomping on something our Flag and Real People with names that have fallen. The very Freedom that we give them to stand freely on that field and play a game they have been doing as a child and now get very good money doing (which I am not against them making their money, but I am against them using their position improperly in the wrong place), and they, can’t just stand quietly at least, they're spitting back in our faces, and they are doing it to all those people who have gone before us. They have platforms to make their grievances known elsewhere, On or with our Flag and Is NOT the place mic drop.
In fact I will close this section in saying this, I challenge Kapernic or any of those who kneel to get permission to get on a plane, go to the front lines with our troops any day, and I’m not talking with all the fluff and cameras and Generals, Colonels I mean where they are not signing autographs, I’m talking where the bad ass soldiers don’t give a rats ass about who they are or what their name is and let them spend time with some real First Sergeants of our Special Forces, Infantry, Green Beret, or 101st, or 10th Mountain Infantry and Ruck march with them in the desert with them in for a week, and see if they still kneel after that. (Just Saying any one with me) Let me know what you think on our web page CiaraHeartofaServiceDog.com There is a place you can comment, and an email will come straight to me. Oh yes and Mr. Kapernic I would challenge you if you are up to come out to Syracuse NY, we do a competition of my choice for Charity. That is if your up for the challenge. Feel free to contact me on Instagram. All in Fun of course and for a worthy cause that way everyone wins.