Re-adjusting to civilian life can be difficult for returning military veterans, that’s why a nonprofit in Amarillo, Texas has stepped up to help veterans and their dogs better deal with the effects of PTSD through service-dog training.
Hope Lives Here is a nonprofit organization founded by dog lover Brooke Schneider, who was diagnosed with PTSD in 2003.
“Our motto is ‘Healing heroes two at a time,’” she explained.
“Shortly after [being diagnosed with PTSD,] I rescued a dog named Harley and really, in the end, it was Harley that rescued me. He passed away suddenly in 2011. I really struggled to make sense of his death, but I wanted to use our story to help others,” Schneider said.
“It is a long process at training but the payoff of the dogs and the veterans together, it’s worth it,” said Durwood “Pete” Rosser, a veteran who has benefited from the program along with his dog, Bolt.
Rosser served as a radioman in the Navy for six years and has had a tough time reacclimating to life outside of the military, but Hope Lives Here’s program has helped to make the transition a little easier.
“I wouldn’t go around the mall. I wouldn’t go around crowded places. I always had to have my back to the wall, which I still do when I go to restaurants or anything,” he said.
After hearing about the program through a friend, Rosser and his dog, Bolt, applied and were accepted into the program, which trained Bolt to be Rosser’s service-dog and constant companion.
“If I’m feeling bad somewhere else, he’ll get up and act like he knows what’s wrong and kindly wants you to pet him, and then you forget about it. He’s kind of a mental health doctor, I would say,” said Rosser.
Since its founding in 2014, Hope Lives Here has helped 35 veterans by training their existing pets to be service-dogs, or pairing them with a service-dog that is right for them.
“It’s been a very humbling experience and I’m very proud of the organization, but most of all, I’m proud of our veterans for coming to us for help because that’s not a very easy thing to do,” said Schneider.
For more information, please visit Hope Lives Here’s website by clicking here.