Vietnam Veteran Proves Wounded Birds of Prey Save Lives

Share Article

New book by the University Press of Kentucky tells the powerful story of a former soldier who became a dedicated healer

"A riveting tale of adventure interwoven with an inspiring look at the astounding power of animals and nature to help heal what's broken in us. Move over dogs, birds of prey are here!"- Maria Goodavage, New York Times bestselling author of Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca and Doctor Dogs

Vietnam veteran proves wounded birds of prey save lives

New book is a powerful tale of how a former soldier became a dedicated healer

In their new book, The Eagle on My Arm: How the Wilderness and Birds of Prey Saved a Veteran’s Life, Dava Guerin and Terry Bivens tell the story of Patrick Bradley, a Vietnam veteran who uses his passion for birds of prey to help other veterans heal physically and psychologically. The Eagle on My Arm is out today and available everywhere books are sold.

“Terry and I decided the time was right to tell Patrick’s story, because so many people are suffering from PTSD and in need of an innovative means to heal,” said Guerin. “We were fascinated by the relationships many veterans had with these majestic birds, and how both the wounded warrior and raptor developed bonds that were literally life changing.”

An Army Green Beret, whose mission it was to identify POW camps in North Vietnam, Bradley suffered from a severe case of PTSD in addition to many physical injuries. Bradley spent three years isolated in the Canadian wilderness counting bald eagles under a research grant as part of his recovery.

His time in Canada was so formative that Bradley went on to have a forty-year career as a wildlife expert and trainer, and managing wounded birds of prey programs in Maryland, Virginia, Oregon, and Florida. His work with raptors led to the founding of the Avian Veteran Alliance (AVA) near St. Petersburg, Florida

“A number of years ago, my son was having some issues and I suggested he come to the park and talk a walk with a wounded hawk on his arm,” said Bradley. “When I saw how that changed his outlook on life, I decided to contact Bay Pines VA Hospital and asked if they wanted to have their patients visit the park.”

The AVA, along with the Bay Pines VA Hospital, brought in-patients to the Narrows Nature Center in Largo, to walk with non-releasable birds of prey that resided there—all had serious issues preventing them from surviving in the wild. These apex predators create a bond with the wounded warriors—each needing to heal by keeping one another calm and focused on being experiencing nature.

“Seven years since we began the program, more than 4,000 veterans have experienced this unique therapy, and we’ve helped to educate the public about wildlife conservation and rehabilitation,” Bradley added.

It is reported that more than twenty-two veterans die by suicide every day. Guerin, and her husband, and co-author Terry Bivens, also veteran, who died by suicide on October 15, 2019, illuminate veterans’ struggles readjusting to civilian life and coping with the emotional remnants of war. They also showcases how one individual can change thousands of lives by dedicating his life to service.

“This is a bittersweet time for me and my family, but I hope readers will be inspired and learn to recognize the warning signs and risk factors of suicide, and ultimately realize the healing power of nature and birds of prey,” said Guerin.

The Eagle on My Arm is a moving account that reveals how a soldier became a dedicated healer, using his years of study and solitude to face his demons and turn his pain into a lifelong passion for helping others.

# # #

Dava Guerin is the author or coauthor of six books, including Rebuilding Sergeant Peck, Vets and Pets, and Unbreakable Bonds. She is a communications consultant and freelance writer and previously served as communications director for the US Association of Former Members of Congress in Washington, D.C. She is an active supporter of Barbara Bush's Foundation for Family Literacy and the Gary Sinise Foundation. She lives in Sarasota, Florida.

Terry Bivens (1946–2019) was an award-winning journalist, highly ranked Wall Street analyst, and coauthor of Rebuilding Sergeant Peck. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Business Week, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and his 1991 series for the Philadelphia Inquirer was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

The University Press of Kentucky is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, representing a consortium that includes all the state universities, five private colleges and two historical societies. The press’ editorial program focuses on the humanities and the social sciences. Offices for the administrative, editorial, production and marketing departments of the press are found at University of Kentucky.

The Eagle on my Arm is part of the Association of the US Army’s American Warrior Series, published by the University Press of Kentucky.

The AUSA American Warriors Series includes biographies and autobiographies of the lives, service, and accomplishments of American military leaders. Series Editor Joseph Craig is Director of the AUSA Book Program.

CONTACT: University Press of Kentucky
Attn: Claire Morgan
(512) 522-8577

Media Kit:
Dava Guerin, author
Patrick Bradley, subject
Volunteers and Beneficiaries of the Avian Veteran Alliance
Birds of prey, including a Bald Eagle, Kestrel, and Screech Owls are available for appearances

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Dava Guerin
Visit website