Tuesday’s Promise

Tuesday’s Promise

One Veteran, One Dog, and Their Bold Quest to Change Lives

Luis Carlos Montalván and Ellis Henican

Hachette Books, New York, 2017, 304 pages

Book Review published on: March 16 2018

Luis Carlos Montalván’s Tuesday’s Promise is an amazing story about an Army captain who was severely injured by an improvised explosive device while serving in Iraq and his difficult transition to civilian life. His physical wounds and stress degraded his quality of life until he met a golden retriever named Tuesday. This remarkable canine became his loyal service dog and provided him relief and companionship. Together, they began a new journey advocating for veterans’ rights across America. The central theme throughout this book is how trained animals can assist wounded warriors, and the optimism one person and dog conveyed to individuals with disabilities.

Montalván’s story about life after the military, his difficulties with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the dog who became his best friend are captivating. He describes how Tuesday changed his isolated life by giving him the courage to leave his New York City apartment and travel as a road warrior advocating for others in need, particularly educating adults and children about the benefits of service dogs. Montalván describes how he and Tuesday rescued a withdrawn Tuskegee airman and battled stubborn bureaucrats insisting Tuesday did not have the proper identification to enter a Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility. He also explains how they were advocates for Camp Lejeune personnel and their families who developed health problems caused by water contamination, and how they assisted individuals who did not receive proper treatment for PTSD separate from the military. Their efforts resulted in standardized regulations for service-dog access to VA facilities, legislation that granted limited medical care for individuals at Camp Lejeune, and honorable discharges for several military personnel with PTSD.

The most inspirational part of the book describes Montalván’s desire to regain control of his physical health. While he focused on his PTSD recovery, his right leg deteriorated rapidly and his mobility was severely limited. Instead of using a wheelchair, Montalván made the courageous decision in choosing to have his leg amputated and be fitted with a technologically advanced prosthetic limb. After months of physical therapy, the chronic pain subdued, and he learned to walk again. Perhaps the most valuable lesson for the reader was having a greater awareness of the physical pain amputees experience and the persistence required for an individual to balance, sit, stand, and walk with a prosthesis.

Even as he struggled to overcome his physical and mental challenges, Montalván was becoming keenly aware that ten-year-old Tuesday was growing older and would not live forever. You can feel the emotion and fear Montalván was experiencing as he realizes that he will outlive his beloved friend. He develops a strategy for Tuesday to transition from a service dog to a therapy dog. Simultaneously, he prepares a successor plan to welcome a female golden retriever puppy as a full-fledge member of their family.

Although this book is well written and structured, the author could remove the chapter on how to groom canines. While bathing, brushing, and nail trimming is essential to maintaining a dog’s physical health and appearance, it diminished the critical message of caring for our veterans.

Tuesday’s Promise is a highly emotional tribute to the courage and tenacity of Purple Heart recipient Montalván, as well as the love and affection of his remarkable dog. Their mission to advocate for those with PTSD and other mental illnesses is inspiring. Sadly, after writing this book, Montalván took his own life. His death is a reminder that living with PTSD is a constant struggle, with many days filled with anxiety and the inability to control emotions; however, it should not reduce the progress he and Tuesday made in assisting others and advocating for veterans’ rights. This book is a valuable resource for individuals who desire to learn more about the realities of PTSD and how service dogs can improve the lives of military personnel who have emotional trauma due to tragedies of war.

Book Review written by: Mark Kormos, Fort Belvoir, Virginia