By Bridget Chavez WATERTOWN, N.Y. (NCC News) – After serving overseas, many veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and some have enlisted the help of service dogs to help them cope with the symptoms. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs the number of veterans with PTSD changes by when they served:
- Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF): About 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans have PTSD in a given year.
- Gulf War (Desert Storm): About 12 out of every 100 Gulf War Veterans have PTSD in a given year.
- Vietnam War: It is estimated that about 30 out of every 100 of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.
K9 College is one of the places where service dogs can get training. Sandra King, owner of K9 College, said the most important thing the dogs do for veterans with PTSD is get them out in the community.
“That’s one of the hardest parts for people with disabilities, that they don’t need that assistance from families. They can get out of the house by themselves,” she said.
Thomas Davis brings his dog to K9 College. He served two tours in Afghanistan and recently became the owner of Lucy, a German-Sheppard puppy in training. He said she’s already helping him cope with some of the symptoms.
“She gets me out of the house,” Davis said. “I get to be more of a child now and play with my daughter, and wrestle and what not.”
Sue Johnson served one tour in Iraq and has had her service dog, Hayden, for two years.
“It’s hard to even talk about,” Johnson said, “I can’t even describe how helpful he’s been… even into words.” Hayden helps Johnson navigate through crowds and helps her to recognize when her breathing is changing. The dog stands on his hind legs and places his hands on her chest to signal the change in her breathing. Since, she’s had him, he’s been a big help.
“I wouldn’t have been able to deal with that without him,” she said.
K9 College offers obedience training and kennels to Central New Yorkers as well.