For military veterans who have proudly served, there can be physical and emotional injuries that make it difficult to transition back to civilian life – some estimates say as many as 20 percent of returning vets suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Barbara Blair has touched the lives of many struggling vets in need of companionship through her efforts as the Georgia chapter director of Pets for Vets, where she leads state-wide programs for the national organization dedicated to veterans and rescued shelter pets.
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, Cheri Deatsch returned to her hometown to help rescue pets that were impacted by the catastrophic storm. In the years that followed, Cheri has continued to travel to communities affected by natural disasters to rescue animals in need – stepping up to volunteer in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Fukushima earthquake in Japan, severe flooding in Thailand, the Oklahoma tornadoes, and many more.
Bria Neff hears voices. The 9-year-old Sioux Falls resident is tuned into a frequency not everybody wants to hear, a channel powered by a great loss and need, a hue and cry rising up from far flung corners of the earth. “If I was queen of the world, I would give every animal a voice,” says the pint-sized artist, who does just that through her portraits of endangered and threatened species.