BANGOR – Veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder are getting help from man’s best friend.
Meet Spirit, a 2 1/2-year-old Alaskan husky and Boxer mix, and she’s not your ordinary dog.
She’s a rescue turned service dog for Amanda Gleason, an Air Force veteran who has been dealing with symptoms from post-traumatic stress disorder
“She gives me that confidence to be able to go out and she gives me something else to focus on, rather than focusing on ‘Oh gosh I don’t know who that person is or I don’t know what’s around that corner, that sort of thing. I can focus on her and not have to think about those other things,” Gleason said.
Spirit comes from the national nonprofit K9s for Warriors, a program that provides service canines to veterans suffering from physical and mental trauma from military service after 9/11.
Gleason said after applying to the program, the vets head down to the K9s for Warriors campus in Florida to undergo vigorous training with their potential service dogs.
After taking them home, the service dogs do their best to help heal the mental and emotional wounds of war.
“On average about 22 veterans a day kill themselves. And so programs like K9s for warriors are trying to find ways to help these veterans realize that they have a purpose,” she said.
Gleason said the program is of no costs to the veterans
She also said the companionship spirit offers helps her find more reasons to keeping living life.
“I feel like I have more options available to me, that I’m willing to consider doing then maybe I was before. I feel like in that respect, she’s given me a bit more optimism to what the future may hold then what it necessarily did before,” Gleason said.
To learn more about the program, visit K9sforwarriors.org.