LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - According to Veterans Affairs research, every day, at least 22 veterans take their lives. A Lukfin organization is spreading awareness of a program that would serve as a unique healing tool for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)
It's called "Train a Dog, Save a Warrior." The service dogs called 'battle buddies have already saved some lives.
The Colonel is one of hundreds of medical alert service dogs or battle buddies to our veterans. Train a Dog, Save a Warrior's mission is to combat veteran suicides.
"You're alone, isolated, and you're not connected," said Bart Sherwood, the Program Director of Train a Dog, Save a Warrior.
Sherwood created the program after witnessing the progress a veteran suffering from PTSD made while training a dog.
"It was magic to see how he trained with that dog, making her do everything, going through that obedience, and becoming an astute dog trainer," Sherwood said.
It's an alternative to medication and counseling.
"You can't take your counselor with you, and sometimes you get tired of going over the same thing over and over again," Sherwood said.
"If we can get service men and dogs together, the dog has a unique way of calming this person down when he's in a stressful situation," said Sharon Adams, a Pilot Club member.
Sherwood said it's more than a K9-humane bond that prevents suicide. There's a science to the battle buddies' effectiveness.
"Their intervention with you is usually between 5-20 minutes before a panic attack or a seizure," Sherwood said.
Cortisol and adrenaline are released when a veteran is under panic attack. The K9 smells the chemicals and intervenes.
"All of a sudden, who you were before you went into the military and faced all these adversities, you're becoming who you were...changed, but under control again," Sherwood said.
"We're just needing all the help and support we can get for the ones who are here that need our help," Adams said.
The Pilot Club in Lufkin is having an informative meeting on the program Tuesday night at six. To donate to the program, visit http://www.tadsaw.org/ .