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Service dogs help vets cope with PTSD | News

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Service dogs help vets cope with PTSD

CABOT, Ark. (KTHV) -- Many military members return from overseas with unseen injuries. In order to help them cope, one group is enlisting the help of A Veteran's Best Friend.

Greg Sporer is an Air Force veteran and counselor who has worked with service members affected by post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Our veterans have already given so much; this is just something to give back," says Sporer. "Freedom is not free. There is a cost, and it's a heavy cost for the veterans."

Veteran's Best Friend is a non-profit, faith-based group in Cabot that provides service dogs to treat veterans with PTSD and other ailments. They get together once a week to work with the animals and their clients to improve the lives of veterans and their families.

Sporer says the dogs are trained to do everything from helping veterans cope with social situations to folding laundry and answering the phone.

"It's amazing what these dogs can do for our veterans, both male and female," says Kathie Ball, director of training for A Veteran's Best Friend. "I've seen them where they're not even able to negotiate life. Once they're outside their homes, they're broken people. But I've seen miracles, and this is the most awesome thing."

Ball says the dogs are typically rescued from the Humane Society or some other shelter. They train with their clients every Thursday, staying with them for over a year to help them readjust to civilian life.

It's a timely issue; Sporer estimates 8,000 service members could take their own lives by the end of the year because of PTSD.

"It makes a big difference where they're not likely to commit suicide if they've got that service dog," he says. "It makes a huge difference."

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