Dennis Fetko –
Hero to Men and Animals
Dennis Fetko joined the Army in 1964, one week after graduating high school. His training led him to the famed 101st Airborne Division as an infantryman. While on patrol as a member of the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam, his squad was ambushed. Command fell to Dennis, who single-handedly destroyed two enemy positions, one of those with a grenade as his rifle jammed. He was awarded for his valor, merit and achievement. After returning home, Dennis began a long struggle with the effects of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Dennis earned a degree as a Doctor of Human Behavior/Behavioral Psychology and became the successful host of the popular local radio show, Talkin’ Animals with Dr. Dog. In 2007, his life was turned upside down as his home in Poway was destroyed by the Witch Creek Fire. Although he was able to purchase a new, smaller home with the insurance proceeds, it is not functional for him according to the Americans With Disabilities Act. He now finds himself in a position in which he never dreamed he’d be. He would like to make lunch in his own kitchen, but cannot do so.
Because of the effects of living with progressive PTSD for 50 years, it is most important for Dennis to keep busy and productive every day. Some of his favorite things are cooking and the preparation for meals. Currently, the configuration of his kitchen will not support his efforts to do so. He is confined to a large motorized wheelchair and has almost no peripheral sight in his left eye. This makes doorways (even ADA standard) and turning around in a room a challenge, if not impossible.
He has lost most of the use of his limbs. His right arm and hand are operable but his right shoulder is broken. His left hand is also operable but he has no elbow. He also lives with chronic pain throughout his body. He cannot get into his kitchen without rubbing the sides of the walls. He cannot reach up to cabinets on the wall or reach down into cabinets that sit on the floor. He cannot use the sink or reach the faucet because the counter top is too high. He cannot turn his chair around without nicking the cabinet doors. Without assistance he cannot fix his own snacks/meals.
Because of the effects of PTSD, chronic pain and the physical disabilities he suffers, Dennis has lost his career, much of his family and a lot of friends. NOLAH has pledged to remodel Dennis’ kitchen, providing ADA modifications that will allow him greater independence. Please consider assisting us in making Dennis’ dream come true.