BLYTHEWOOD, S.C. — A South Carolina Army veteran recently returned home to Blythewood with a new friend -- a friend that brings the hope of healing.
"Brian C." has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from his military service. He applied to an organization called K9s For Warriors -- a national nonprofit that procures eligible shelter dogs and trains them to be Service Dogs to mitigate symptoms of PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and/or Military Sexual Trauma for service members and veterans -- and was paired with a service dog named Nick S. Ahepa.
Nick has been trained to help manage symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in humans.
“I wanted to improve my life, get out of the house more often, and find a way to manage my anxiety,” Brian said.
According to the organization, the training program was amended to comply with CDC guidelines since COVID-19.
Once Brian was paired with Nick, the team trained in public every day wearing PPE and received instruction on matters of Service Dog access, dog health care and more. Over the three-week course of training, Brian and Nick formed a bond that the organization hopes will facilitate Brian’s healing from military-related trauma.
“The rate of veteran suicide in our country is unacceptable," said K9s For Warriors CEO Rory Diamond. "These are the people who volunteered their lives so that Americans can enjoy their everyday independence. But PTSD steals their independence, and worst of all, suicide steals their lives. K9s For Warriors is here to give both back to them through a new, loyal battle buddy – a Service Dog.”
K9s For Warriors operates from two facilities in North Florida that procure and train the canines, pair them with an incoming veteran, then train the veteran and canine pair together.