Service dogs help disabled veterans

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Reporter - Kathryn DiGisi

CARBONDALE, Ill. - For the last several weeks, the organization "This Abel Veteran" has been training a new batch of service dogs.

They teach the pups to be more than just companions to disabled veterans; they teach them to become in tune with their new owner's needs.

These canines are true healers for some of the community's finest.

This Able Veterans' employees train the dogs specifically for their veterans, meaning the dogs are able to sense when their vet is feeling dark, disturbed or even in pain.

If you were to spend any time at all with veteran Jerome Smith and his service dog, Joey, you would think they had been a pair for years.

They were matched only two weeks ago and smith has already seen a positive change in himself.

"I'm a lot more open. I'm more eager to meet new people. I think I've been able to recognize a lot more about myself," said Smith.

After three tours in Iraq, Smith could feel himself drifting into a dark place.

"I tend to isolate due to my PTSD. I don't have much of a family. I just have always kind of been that guy that when I got home, I just kind of was alone," said Smith.

Smith says Joey has helped heal his post traumatic stress and give him a new reason to live.

"There's really nothing or nobody else there to hold me accountable or be responsible for or anything of that nature. With him, it adds purpose to my life," said Smith.

Even after only two weeks with Joey, Smith says he can't imagine going back to his old way of life.

 

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