This Able Veteran: Mindi Meets Her New Veteran
CARBONDALE -- Saturday was an emotional day for five wounded veterans. They came in from around the country to be paired up with service dogs.
"This Able Veteran" is a Carbondale-based program that helps veterans dealing with post traumatic stress disorder.
The moment veterans meet their new companions for the first time is hard to put into words.
"I don't know how to describe it, other than it's like seeing hope personified in a dog," says Eric Beach.
Beach is an Army veteran paired with two-year-old Matti to help him deal with some of the effects of PTSD. The Wisconsin man says he struggles with nightmares and anxiety.
"When things remind of me of stuff, I can get a blank stare and really be distant from my wife and from my daughter," said Beach. "And I feel this is going to allow me, with her, to overcome that so I can actually be present with my family more than I have been."
Each veteran has a special story of being wounded while serving. Every service dog is perfectly matched with their owner.
Two-year-old Mindi has been teamed up with Jacob, who's struggled with PTSD since 2007. She's also had her own trauma.
"Mindi had already come through and was trained in a number of capacities," says This Able Veteran founder Behesha Doan.
The very skilled black lab survived a horrific car accident in February. The accident killed her first owner shortly after being paired with her. Mindi remained in the vehicle for two days in frigid temperatures with no food or water.
"Mindi had bigger and better things on her spectrum and that is now the partner to Jacob," says Doan.
In the coming weeks the couples will bond and share more powerful moments. Mindi will get to know Jacob and walk by his side. Those steps will help him to become the husband and father he wants to be.
"It's a special matching, and it's special for all of us who have spent so much time with Mindi and watched her progress from a young dog, a puppy out of the shelter system, to what she is today," said Doan.
The veterans and their pups will spend the next three weeks in intense training.
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