PONTE VEDRA, FL (WWTI) – Air Force veteran Darrell DeMotta recently returned home to New York with his new service dog, Mikey. Mikey is a Golden Retriever service dog trained to help DeMotta manage symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that resulted from his military service.
On why he applied to K9s For Warriors, DeMotta said, “I was tired of the side effects of my medication. I needed avenues, with the support of my family, seeking out non-traditional treatment methods for PTSD.”
Upon arrival to K9s For Warriors, DeMotta was paired with Mikey, who had already completed formal service canine training in the months prior. Along with the other members of their class, the team trained in public every day, received instruction on matters of service dog access, dog health care and more, and established a bond that would facilitate DeMotta’s healing from the invisible wounds of war.
K9s For Warriors CEO, Rory Diamond, explains why the program is critical:
“There’s an epidemic of veteran suicide in our country. Service dogs are a proven method of alleviating the debilitating symptoms of PTSD – like suicidal ideation. They not only get our veterans back on their feet, but they also help them regain a sense of normalcy in their lives. Most veterans with PTSD think they’ve lost that forever.”
K9s For Warriors is a national nonprofit that takes eligible shelter dogs and trains them to be service dogs to mitigate symptoms of PTSD, Traumatic Brian Injury, and/or Military Sexual Trauma for post-9/11 service members and veterans. It 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. After three weeks with his or her new service dog, the veteran has learned how to reintegrate into society and, most importantly, reduce suicidal ideation.
About K9s For Warriors
K9s For Warriors is the nation’s largest provider of service dogs to military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and/or Military Sexual Trauma (MST) as a result of military service post-9/11. The service dog program is unique and offers an innovative approach to recovering from the invisible wounds of war. Two lives are transformed with each pairing: the veteran reduces his/her risk of suicide while the rescue dog receives a newfound purpose.