Erick Scott knows first-hand how it feels to suffer from PTSD. A veteran who served in Iraq, this husband and father came home from the fighting only to be confronted by his own demons. Refusing at first to believe the PTSD diagnosis from his doctor, it wasn't until he heard about K9s for Warriors that he began to feel some hope.
Scott was paired with a dog whose main role was to notify him when he started showing symptoms of PTSD. Watch the video above to see the dog's amazing reaction when Scott gets agitated on camera.
K9's for Warriors is a non-profit program that works to train service dogs for veterans with diagnoses like PTSD, TBI (traumatic brain injury) and MST (military sexual trauma). Veterans come to Florida from all over the country to be paired with a service dog. In fact, the need is so great that the wait list is over a year long.
In an effort to handle the growing needs of veterans, a new facility is under construction in Nocatee, Florida. This facility will be able to house up to 16 veterans at a time.
K9s for Warriors founder Shari Duval says the new complex will be the "leading PTSD recovery center" in the nation using certified service dogs. The idea is to help them find their "reset button," Duval explains. The warriors need time to relax, but not too much idle time which can throw them into bad memories and anxiety.
The veterans live in the facility for 3 weeks, receiving personalized training with their new service dog. The idea is to give each veteran time to relax and get comfortable with their new companion before going out on their own. The veterans are not charged a penny.
First Coast News (which like USA TODAY is owned by Gannett) partnered with K9s for Warriors and launched its own project, Operation Orion, four months ago. Aimed at raising funds for the new facility, it will help ensure construction is complete by early 2015. Every dollar raised by Operation Orion before January 2015 will be matched by the Weaver Family Foundation. If you would like to donate, click here.
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