For military veteran Aaron Jordan, the challenging transition from deployment to civilian life took its toll. Returning home from multiple tours in Afghanistan came with the unsettling feeling of aimlessness. What now? Where do we go from here?

Aaron didn't know it at the time, but the day he decided to bring his family to SPCA Wake would be the day he began finding those answers.

A Veteran Adoption — The Magic Goes Both Ways (Part 6/6)

Aaron had heard an ad on the radio that SPCA Wake was having an adoption special — 50% off adoption fees that weekend for military members and their families. Aaron's family had recently lost one of their beloved dogs, and hearing the ad felt a little like fate. So Aaron brought his wife and two young kids on a trip to the SPCA's Pet Adoption Center — just to look.

When they walked in, they saw Gem. A young dog waiting alone, watching as dozens of visitors walked by her room without paying her a visit. Aaron and his family saw Gem waiting at her door and decided to start there. And as soon as Aaron's kids got down on the ground with her, Gem laid her head in his daughter's lap, and Aaron knew that was it. They were adopting a dog today.

Aaron Jordan and his family meet their new dog Gem at the SPCA Wake Pet Adoption Center during a veteran adoption promotion. 

After returning from deployment, Aaron Jordan says adopting Gem was a life-changing experience for him and his family.

For the next several weeks, Aaron worked with Gem to help acclimate her to her new home. He began taking her to training classes each week, and as they spent more time learning to understand each other, Aaron says he could feel them forming a strong bond.

With Gem at his side, Aaron began to notice that feeling he'd been yearning for — a sense of purpose. Working with Gem in weekly training had given him something to work toward, and when they'd return home from class, Gem would show her gratitude with the kind of unconditional love that can heal any heart.

Gem could always seem to sense when Aaron was having a hard time. "She'll climb up into your lap thinking that she's a lap dog," he says. When Gem comforted Aaron through stress, Gem would almost force Aaron to face his problems and work through them rather than letting them build up inside. As Aaron puts it, "I thought we were doing her a favor by giving her a loving home, taking her off the streets, and lo and behold, she's probably given back to our family and myself more than what we've given her."

Adopting a rescue pet not only changes the pet's life forever, it changes the family's life too. When you take in a pet who needs a loving home, they will return all of that love to you tenfold.

Spending time with pets has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and increase overall mental and physical well-being. SPCA Wake's Adoption Program connects pets in need with people who will love them, and the result is a win-win that saves thousands of lives each year — and your generous support makes it possible.

Click here to learn more about the range of benefits SPCA Wake offers for military veterans, ranging from adoption discounts to special programs designed to keep families together.

Make a donation today to help expand and support programs like these.

SPCA Wake is a 501(c)3 nonprofit rescue headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina. Each year, your support helps to save the lives of over 4,000 cats, dogs, and small pets through our rescue and adoption program. Our mission is to create a humane community for pets and people, to end the euthanasia of adoptable pets, and to change the hearts and minds of people across North Carolina.