Veteran claims he was harassed over service dog at VA Medical Center 

| March 22, 2019

Emotional support animals are everywhere and it’s easy to get a certificate for one. People can go online and pay $20 for bogus service dog vests, certificates and the list goes on. Shortly after, a package will most likely arrive in the mail.

With the sudden increase of emotional support animals, it’s wreaking havoc on people who legitimately rely on their dogs to help them navigate life.

On a recent trip to the VA Medical Center in Riviera Beach, Vietnam veteran Michael Lewandoski claims he was harassed by a guard because of his service dog. He says the guard questioned him about his 8-year-old service dog, Anna. She’s a seven-pound dog who’s adapted to Lewandowski’s needs for the past four years.

 

Paul Mueller is the reporter that aired this story and he does not seem to understand that U.S. Animal Services are considered a source of bogus “Service Dog” claims by many of us.  They are one of the places that you simply fill out a form and pay a fee to get a certificate for your dog.

Michael Lewandoski should probably leave his puppy at home.  There is a video at the link below.

Michael Lewandoski is part of the problem in my opinion.  So is Paul Mueller and U.S. Animal Services.  I believe its these kinds of people that cause horrible stereotypes about veterans and PTSD to be perpetuated.  My opinion is Michael Lewandoski is a clown and a disgrace to those that actually do suffer from PTSD.  To me, he seems to be little more than a professional victim.  I do not believe his dog is a legitimately trained “Service Dog” and it should not be treated as such just because little Mikey has hurt feelings about it.

Shame on all of them.
Source: Veteran claims he was harassed over service dog at VA Medical Center | WPEC

Category: "Teh Stoopid", Exploitation, Veteran Health Care, Veterans in the news

Comments (60)

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  1. Non Cedo Ferio says:

    If you want a service dog , then Dammit , go through the process and training to get one that’s legit. If you go through a good reputable training org they are gonna ask for two things , a 214 , a VA award letter oh yes, and verifiable references. It clowns like this who prob couldn’t get any of those and then go online and buy everything to appear legit. There’s a real problem we have in this country when the phonies either by SV or service animals draw so much attention to themselves. They draw ridicule and are seen as a joke or disgrace , that it can overshadow the ones who have an animal who have real issues. And that’s the damage it does. Doesn’t matter whether a guy is proud of his bronze star hat or someone with a dog. , we have gotten to the point where we ask ourselves , are the faking or not? Veterans already have such a hard time with the misconceptions that society has about them , either from movies, media or just plain ignorance. It’s not helping when you get guys like this being foolish and feeding directly in to this misconceptions .

  2. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    I’ve seen more businesses in the area put out sings specifically stating what type of animals are allowed in (specifically guide dogs), because of stuff like this.

    I guess I’ll need to go out and get me an emotional support wombat for my next visit to the VA…

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      I want an emotional support service Meganeura (griffinfly). If you can find one that doesn’t bite, I want it so that it can get stuff off the top shelves at the grocery store for me.

  3. 3/10/MED/b says:

    Reading this in the VA parking lot, awaiting to see my own share of phony service dogs. Was in a waiting room a few weeks ago, listening to yet another story of how “the Army screwed me over…I should’ve got that award too…my platoon Sgt. hated me…” et al. He gets up to leave, with a leash in his hand. I never saw the dog. This poor thing is so scared, it’s not coming out from under the seat. Asshole has to reach down and pick it up to get to his appointment.Sure enough, yellow “SERVICE DOG” vest.

    Not to mention the mastiffs and pitbulls with the same $25 vests…

    Peace to all.

    • HMCS(FMF) ret says:

      Yep… went to one Veteran’s Day Assembly at a local elementary school right after I retired. They had each one of us state out name, Branch of Service and the years we served. This nasty ass, OD field jacket wearing idijt starts in with his sob story about he was Billy Badass and his tales that would make John Rambo looks like a pussy. The, to top it off, he tells everyone that “the Army made me do drugs and then kicked me out” and how his life has been shit ever since. 500 kids literally shit their pants over hearing the crap he was saying.

      I’ve never been to another Veteran’s Day event since then…

    • Eo says:

      The breed doesn’t matter because there are a bunch of different things a service dog can potentially be trained to do, but a legit one should never be cowering like that. Just another attention seeker who is probably fishing for a lawsuit.

      • 3/10/MED/b says:

        Will make note of the “breed” comment, Eo. Thanks.

        • Eo says:

          All good. It’s not unusual for people to train their own dogs because getting one from a program can cost several thousand dollars and the wait times are long.

          It’s a complicated issue because the current law is a mess. I only know it because my old job had a lot of drama about ESAs and service dogs.

  4. AnotherPat says:

    This is Mike Lewandowski Facebook account if anyone is interested. Has a picture of him wearing a Khaki top with awards.

    https://www.facebook.com/mike.lewandowski.963

    • 26Limabeans says:

      Rutt Roe. The Vietnam Vet Minister thing has my meter twitchin. Just sayin.

      • AnotherPat says:

        He was featured in this 2013 news article from the Sun-Sentinel, Florida:

        “Building That Houses Recovery Center To Be Auctioned”:

        https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-2013-01-28-fl-lamb-of-god-auction-20130123-story.html

        “Perhaps the miracles began in 1984, when the Lamb of God’s CEO Michael Lewandowski broke into the building’s tiny, concrete-floored water-meter room on a cold night to detox from alcohol — at that time, the building was a struggling strip mall, and Lewandowski was a homeless Vietnam veteran who’d been, he said, “in a vodka bottle for 19 years.”

      • Claw says:

        Rutt Roe again. He’s wearing a Army Overseas Service Ribbon (not awarded until 1981) mixed in with his out of precedence Viet Nam Times ribbons.

        Does the OSR make him “highly decorated”?/s

        • Jay says:

          Looks like he has a Purple Heart on in that pic too…

          • Mason says:

            Indeed he does. What a jacked up ribbon rack.

            Absolutely the best that he can only button literally the bottom button. What a tub he looks like.

            • AnotherPat says:

              That picture was hard on the eyes. Others made comments to him about wearing that khaki shirt open…he said it fit him when he weighed 135 pounds.

              He said he spent a one year tour in Vietnam in the late 60s. It’s possible that he may be entitled to the Purple Heart, but Claw is right about the Overseas Service Ribbon.

              Still think his “Woe is Me, They Are Pickin On Me” story will backfire on him.

              • Mason says:

                As in backfire when some enterprising blog who researches people’s military records orders some up on this fellow?

                The sad things about the photo is he’s not morbidly obese or anything. I’d probably not be able to button up my blues shirt from basic either. Which is why you won’t see me taking any selfies in it.

          • 3/10/MED/b says:

            Where is his ribbon rack shown?

      • Outcast says:

        Well guess I will help with your twitch as mine has become pegged here. They are now known as “International Conference of War Veterans Ministries” and lists 4 people on page of which only one was a Chaplain in Vietnam, another is Sister Linda McClenahan , Ssgt 1st Signal Brigade in Long Binh (?????). All that is required to become a member is an experience of war or an interest in working with war trauama and $50. Optional is copy of DD-214 and certificate of Ministerial standing. Is also now trying to expand to other countries. Oh golly gee I just so want to join up (not). Sounds like the other one that is in state here known as Qualified Listeners.

        • Claw says:

          “Sister Linda McClenahan, Ssgt 1st Signal Brigade in Long Binh (?????).”

          Sure, Why not? There was a Personnel/Admin/Signal oriented WAC Detachment (about 130 strong) in Saigon/Long Binh from 67-72. There at Long Binh they shared the Mess Hall with the 24th Evac Hospital and even had their own swimming pool.

          After all, “Sister Sarge” wouldn’t lie to us, seeing as how she is a Nun and based on a photo, is most likely a Chaplain at her VFW Post.

          But, anyway, doing a research paper/article on the Long Binh WAC Detachment might be a project for EX-PH2 just to show we knuckle dragging, miscreant dickweed types that there were indeed, female service personnel in Viet of the Nam for a tour other than Nurses./smile

    • Sparks says:

      Just saw that and he’s wearing a Purple Heart ahead of a Silver Star. Unless it’s an award I can’t make out from the angle. Plus his marksmanship awards are on the wrong side. Something is not right with this guy and I don’t mean his health.

  5. Non Cedo Ferio says:

    Yet another example of attention seeking Veterans. Helping to perpetuate one of the many misconceptions about Veterans. Folks see this and lump real veterans with real issues with doubt . As if being a veteran esp ones seeking help for MH issues didn’t have enough to deal with already .

    • Outcast says:

      Yeah, in a world of hurt there, Vette, M/C, rides horses (no dog there), founder and CEO of church, good looking boat, looks like part owner of auto dealership, wannabe boxer, unmarried Minister with nicely built younger Bikini hanging on his arm, definite all the signs of PTSD and in dire needs of companion dog in my book. (Big assed smile)

  6. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    As someone who has to deal with accepting these fake fucking service dogs all the time it pisses me off that there’s not a formal process for licensing these animals.

    I can’t park in certain parking spaces without documentation but if I want to take my fucking dog everywhere I go all I have to do is slap on a vest and no one is allowed to question me.

    It’s ridiculous on its face.

    The number of people who get pissed off when I point out the ADA allows me to jettison them and their “service” dog once that dog relieves himself on the property is pretty close to 100% which tells me most of these assclowns don’t have an actual service dog and don’t even know the fucking law themselves.

    Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

    When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.

    A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      I have a service cat. Problem is, she mostly serves herself. My needs come far behind hers. And whine?????? Mama mia!!!

      • USAF RET says:

        Tried to get a vest on the wife’s cat. Scratched the hell outta my hand and went back to sleep.

      • timactual says:

        I have it on good authority that you, not the cat, are the service animal. At least that is what my wife’s cats tell me. I refuse to wear that damn vest, though.

  7. Eo says:

    Is he claiming a service dog or an ESA? Service dogs are trained to perform an actual function that helps the owner manage a disability. ESAs don’t, and have way fewer protections under the ADA. That’s important here because stores and government facilities are not obligated to allow an ESA like they are with an actual service dog.
    People with service dogs need a doctor’s note for work and housing accommodations, but aren’t required to have or show it in places like stores. You can ask if they’re a service dog and what they’re trained to do, and can boot them if the dog is misbehaving.

    The service dog card bit is nonsense because there’s no such thing. There aren’t any official forms, vests, databases, etc. The places that sell that stuff by and large are out to scam disabled people. Lewandowski waving a card around without mentioning what the dog does means he’s probably full of shit. Either way the original article was not well researched.

  8. USAF RET says:

    Another “HEY, LOOK AT ME….SOMEBODY, ANYBODY…LOOK AT ME!!!” ploy. Probably has so many service related stickers on his car windows that he can’t see out. Why can’t some folks be proud of what they have done and grow older gracefully. Went to a change of command a couple weeks ago and a Major had a 3 page BIO…….unreal.

  9. Club Manager, USA ret. says:

    I guess I am dense because I do not understand how taking a service dog with you everyplace you go is anything more than a distraction and inconvenience. Seems to me it is more of a quest for attention than anything. Then again I don’t claim PTSD although my wife claims PUWSS (i.e., putting up with Stu’s shit). I have been stressed really bad a couple of times and a couple of shots of cheap booze alleviated that problem.

  10. Perry Gaskill says:

    I was almost ready to buy into Lewandoski’s sad-ass story until he got to the part about being afraid now to go back into the VA clinic because the guard was mean to him and his dog. It seems to me very doubtful any real Viet Nam vet would ever say such a spineless and pathetic thing.

    You also have to wonder about the mental health of somebody who would want to take their dog into the sterile environment of a medical clinic in the first place.

    I’ve said it before: I have a Border Collie. She has few bad habits except for a tendency to want to herd small children. She would likely be embarrassed to wear a vest. She doesn’t go places where she’s not welcome. Such things are not that complicated.

  11. AnotherPat says:

    Paul Mueller’s broadcasted news story may backfire on Mike Lewandowski or on WPEC for even making it a story.

    Sorry, buy IMO, Lewandowski’s dog looks like AOC.

    I agree with what Perry wrote. If Lewandowski really wants treatment at that VA Medical Center, he will go back minus his dog. He’s not afraid of the guard. He’s afraid the guard is right in denying that dog access to the Center.

    Lewandowski: Just another “Look At Me! Attention-Seeking, Feel Sorry For Me” Veteran.

    seeingeyedogsrule

  12. Skyjumper says:

    One of my questions is why he felt he was being singled out by the VA security by being asked questions (which he never stated what they actually were)?

    Isn’t part of the VA security officers job, among others, to ask such questions? My guess is that since it is a government building, the guards are fully aware of the limitations they have as to asking about service dogs. Since service dog and ESA fraud is fairly rampant, I can understand the guards inquiry, especially when the “service” dog is a small Chihuahua.

    He also states on the video that he was promised “dignity & respect and to be honored for his services” for his military service and felt that he was being harassed because of their questions. Being asked a couple of questions pertaining to ones service dog, in my minds eye, does not constitute harassment or remove ones dignity, respect or honor for serving in the military. JMO

    After doing a few searches on the internet thingy, I found a number of things.

    He claims to be some sort of minister in the Lamb of God Ministries, Inc in Okeechobee, FL which he founded in 1986 and is the CEO of, with a yearly revenue of $363,941.00 with six employees.

    Per his Book of Face page, he also appears to own two Corvettes.

    He also owned a business (now closed) that repaired automobiles by clients from his ministry, and then sold the autos to the general public. It was called M & L Select Autos, Inc..

    Maybe because I have been on TAH for a bit over five years now and have become a tad cynical or maybe just cuz I’m a 70 year old fart ….or maybe both (grin), but too many questions and not near enough answers to satisfy me on this story.

    I’ll agree with the pink robe wearing Dave Hardin guy’s assessment who always seems to know how to cut thru the BS. (grin)

    https://www.corporationwiki.com/Florida/Okeechobee/lamb-of-god-ministries-incorporated-3133692.aspx

    https://www.corporationwiki.com/Florida/Okeechobee/michael-i-lewandowski-P2062728.aspx

    https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-2013-01-28-fl-lamb-of-god-auction-20130123-story.html

    • Perry Gaskill says:

      Maybe the corvettes are like the old Southern joke.

      Question: Know how to tell the difference between a rich good ol’ boy, and a poor good ol’ boy?

      Answer: The rich good ol’ boy has two cars up on cinder blocks in his front yard.

      • Comm Center Rat says:

        Reminds me of when I lived in Oklahoma. The rich good ol’ boy drove a dually and lived in a double wide trailer.

  13. Green Thumb says:

    Just another Va-empowered dirtbag.

  14. Ex-PH2 says:

    You all probably thought I was kidding about service cats. Here’s a video about a verified Service Cat named Symie at work.

    • USAF RET says:

      that is classic. My wife walks one of hers with harness/leash. Never seen more double takes with folks driving by……

    • AnotherPat says:

      Cats are smart as well and can do obedience tricks just as good as dogs.

      The cat in the video looks as if it may have Siamese in it…perhaps the reason behind the name Symie?

      Thank You for sharing, Ex-PH2.

  15. FatCircles0311 says:

    Anyone else notice that Lowes has preferential veteran parking at their store? I went the other day and was shocked. I wonder how abused that is.

  16. 5th/77th FA says:

    I would rescue that poor Chi hoooa hoooa from this POS.

    If you want attention, try wearing an Elton John suit.

    The puppy would have a good home here at Firebase Magnolia. Be well fed too!

  17. Eric says:

    Does the author know what this veteran is being treated for, his service connected disabilities or have inside knowledge of his emotional needs due to military service? I didn’t think so. Just because he took a short cut to getting his service dog vest, badge,certificate etc does not mean he is a phony nor that his dog does not provide service dog benefits to him. Save your outrage for stolen valor phonys.

  18. Mike MacDonald says:

    While many of you may poke fun, and that is ok, I had an Airedale Service dog for PTS for ten years until she died. I ow have another I am training. And yes, I use a professional trainer for all certification. I can prove in court what the dog does for me. When people ask me why I have her, I just say, “the dog allows me to leave my .45 at home”. I spent months in the PTSD ward at the VA in Tomah Wi. Haven’t had a drink in 23 years and feel those people saved my life. I’ve never taken my dog to the VA, I feel fine there, it is full of other vets. For those of you who don’t have PTSD, try to imagine not having any control over your own thoughts. My dog has warned me of danger, real or imagined, wakes me from nightmares and will check every door and window in the house when I awake disoriented. I am President of the 28th Infantry Regiment Assn, The Black Lions and usually afraid of nothing. Most importantly, I try not to judge anyone with mental entanglements no more than I judge a vet with a missing arm. I have never had an issue in public if questioned by a business, I spend my money elsewhere. No hassle, just a polite goodbye.
    PS: I agree the guy in this article is a clown. And by the way, I’ve informed many business owners that anyone with a dog has to answer to police and the owner is safe with ADA compliance.

  19. HMC Ret says:

    The term ‘professional victim’ comes to mind with this guy.

    Saw a couple in the commissary last week with a Great Dane with some sort of bogus looking comfort dog signage. I swear, if that mutt took a dump, the Navy would have had to call a hazmat team.

    I have no doubt PTSD is real and many benefit by having a service dog/giraffe/ant colony/whatever. For this guy I’m sticking with ‘professional victim’. Could be wrong …

  20. Sparks says:

    This service animal, emotional support animal thing is a fairly recent event and getting way too far out of hand. I’m sure men returning home from the Civil War were warmed to see they were remembered by Ole Yeller. I don’t think they dragged them into the dry goods store or saloon or church though.

    If you tell some people they are broken and you have a fix, they will buy it or buy into it.

    I have seen true service animals help people, especially in their homes and in stores.

    But for the ass hole women and sometimes men, carrying the Kim Kardashian little pooch in their purse or on a leash into a store makes me see red.

    About a year ago I decided to take my own little stand. If one of those comes in and is near me, I very matter of fact tell them I am allergic to dogs and they need to go an aisle over and get away from me. In truth, there are only a few dog breeds that do not make me have a full hayfever reaction but it passes when they pass. I owned a German Shepard for years and he was no problem. If the folks start in with their “rights” to have the dog I get the manager and when it comes down to me as a customer and them with their dog as a customer, they have never failed to tell them to give me a wide berth or leave the store, license or not. Even if they have a license for the little “support animal”, that right does not include infringing upon my health.

    O Bout 9 months ago, one of the little shit stains was loose in the aisle, no vest, no leash, while the dip shit owner was shopping and the dog was yapping at everyone and everything. When it yapped and nipped at my wife’s shoe, I drop kicked it from facial tissue all the way down to big box paper towels. It yelped and ran to momma who started in on why she needs it and I just told her to get the hell away from me with that little rat bastard or I’d call the police. She grabbed it up and left the store.

    I’m not trying to be a hard case here but damn it, I go to the store to do business and I think about the sanitary conditions of the store and the employees as it is, without thinking about dog hair dander in my fucking lettuce after dip shit held her dog in her arms reaching over open foods with it. Fuck them! Just fuck them.

    • Eo says:

      The owner was an asshat, but there’s no need to take it out on the dog.

      That lettuce sat out in a field for months where it was exposed to all kinds of animals, and probably used waste containing fertilizer. The only cleaning it had was a quick pressure wash, and while at the store it’s been touched with bare hands by other customers.

      • Eo says:

        Forgot to add that you might want to have with you the sections of the ADA that says animals that aren’t under control can be kicked out, and the protections people with allergies have.