Monday, Sep 1, 2014
Veterans, Service Dogs Complete Class
CARTERVILLE-- It was an exciting, yet emotional day at Cannon Park in Carterville for six wounded veterans. All of them successfully completed a three-week trauma resiliency training class with their new service dogs.
With tails wagging and paws ready to walk towards something new, six service dogs and six United States veterans marched towards victory.
"This is the day that they get to go back home and get to start that journey, to start their new lives," said Pamela Largent, president of This Able Veteran.
This Able Veteran is a program designed to help veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Jacob Nation, a Marine Corp veteran, spent eight years in the military. He served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. But when he returned home, things were different.
Nation said, "It went from a very chaotic life to a very subtle, simple life, and it's definitely still taking me time to adjust after all these years."
As a way of coping, veterans are paired with service dogs. Jacob, who's from Metropolis, didn't have to travel far to find his match.
"Mindi is just an amazing, amazing girl," said Largent.
In February, Mindi and her owner were heading home when tragedy hit. They went off the road and were stranded for two days.
"When we brought her back, she was of course shook and a little spooked. But boy, she has bounced back, and she has really really bonded with her veteran Jacob," said Largent.
"Like I tell everyone, she had her own traumatic experience as well as I have, and she's still working through hers, and she's going to help me through mine and I'm going to help her," added Jacob.
Mindi and Jacob will continue to grow and heal from their traumatic experiences. Only this time, they'll be doing it together.
"She's my new battle buddy. She will go everywhere with me. She'll be great."
And Jacob's kids are excited to add a new member to their family.
"They are already claimed individually. They claim Mindi for themselves, so this is already an ongoing battle," said Naiton.
Service dogs are provided to veterans for free. But there's a great need for money to keep training dogs.
If you would like more information on how to get involved or to donate, contact This Able Veteran at (618) 964-1162.
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