Operation At Ease helps veteran and service dog

Photo Sonya Ward
Eddie Reynolds, Joni Bonilla of Operation At Ease, and service dog Callie.Photo Sonya Ward Eddie Reynolds, Joni Bonilla of Operation At Ease, and service dog Callie.

By Kristin Schultz

Gazette Reporter

Sometimes, putting up fences is a good thing.

For Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran Eddie Reynolds, a fence was a very good thing because it will allow his children and dogs, including his official service dog, to exercise and play in the safety of an enclosed yard.

Operation At Ease, an organization that connects military veterans with PTSD and other brain injuries with service dogs, worked with local companies who donated time and materials to make the fence a reality.

“With traumatic brain injuries, there can be a huge guilt component because the injury affects everyone in the family,” said founder and Niskayuna resident Joni Bonilla.

Bonilla said that in the winter, it is difficult for Reynolds to get out and walk the dogs, especially his service dog, Callie.

“The fence will alleviate that,” said Bonilla.

Siena Fence Co. Inc. of Clifton park donated around 300 feet of fence, gates and posts, which was about $7,000 worth of fence material. The black, aluminum fence is 4 feet high and encloses the backyard.

Siena Fence president Chris Litchfield said the fence is completely maintenance-free and has a lifetime warranty.

“This fence will give Eddie years of use with no additional maintenance costs,” said Litchfield.  “The fence is also a very attractive addition to the landscape.”

Litchfield and his wife volunteer regularly and were happy to get involved with Operation At Ease.

“When Joni contacted me about a fence for Eddie and a new service dog he had received I was excited to get involved,” Litchfield said. “I have a nephew who is currently in the Marines, and I have always had a great respect for the men and women in our armed forces.”

Upstate Property Service of Schenectady donated time and labor to install the fence. In a statement, owner John Waxman said: “Upstate Property Service is grateful for the opportunity to give back to the men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect what we hold most dear.”

Operation At Ease volunteers along with members of Reynolds’ motorcycle club also helped drill post holes and install the fence.