SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - For veterans living with post traumatic stress disorder, it can be a lonely and isolated existence, but an organization called 'this able veteran' is working to change that with specially trained service dog.
It's a special night for Founder and Executive Training Director Behesha Doan, a night where a year of work ends in a special way for seven local veterans from southern Illinois.
The veterans and the dogs have participated in a trauma resiliency program for about the past three weeks, since April 11, 2016.
"The dogs are trained to help these veterans so that they don't have to relive the worst nights of their life over and over again," Doan said.
The veterans have been going through extensive training, training away from their human families but with a new four-legged family member.
"These dogs are helping them to become socially re-integrated, because part of the pain of post-traumatic stress is isolation, being separated." Doan said. "Even though their initial feelings can be, 'I want people to leave me alone.' The reality is it's the pain of separation that causes so much of the devastation in their life."
Dogs like Liberty help a veteran in ways no other living being can: giving emotional support, unconditional love and specially trained for responding to anxiety and nightmares.
"The dog in fact becomes a social lubricant where the family can now interact with the dog with the veteran and can all come together," Doan said.
All the training ends with a ceremony tonight at the American Legion in Marion at 6:30 p.m. the veterans will get their service dogs and start a new life together.
The program is fully funded by donations, after graduation the program will being training puppies for next years veterans.