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Veterans battle PTSD with man's best friend

By Brittany Weiner
Published On: Apr 04 2014 08:33:27 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Brittany Weiner has an update on a local non-profit helping Central Oregon veterans battling post-traumatic stress disorder.

BEND, Ore. -

Many in the military have served overseas.

"I served from 2006 to the end of 2010," Army Veteran Dave Dotson said.

Many continue to fight back home.

"I see regular people go about their lives, and to me it's just like, 'Wow, that'd be great, to get back to that,'" Dotson said recently.

Dotson is one of more than 155,000 U.S. troops that has post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, according to the Pentagon.

"I got med-evaced back to Georgia, and spent the next year in therapy," Dotson said.

Now that therapy is 5-year-old Dakota.  

"She gets all the love in the world, and right back I get all the love in the world," Dotson said.

Dotson and fellow veterans are six weeks into a six-month training program with Battle Buddies of Central Oregon.

"They calm them down. It's someone that's there 24/7 that doesn't judge," said Battle Buddies of Central Oregon Program Director Karin Long.

The non-profit trains PTSD service dogs are provided at no cost to the veteran.

"We want them literally bomb-proof, they need to be able to withstand anything that is thrown at them,"  Long said.

Aside from the normal commands, the dogs are taught to stay calm, even in the most hectic of situations.

"We're working on obstacle courses going over different textures, distractions," Battle Buddies dog trainer Scott Elliott said.

They also are taught to respond to commands that show a veteran is uncomfortable or needs to leave a situation.

The one thing they don't have to be taught is how to be a great companion.

"Being afraid to get close to people, or hurting people, or anything like that -- I don't feel that with her," Dotson said. "When I met her, it was like an instant bond."

A buddy there to battle through one of life's toughest fights.

Battle Buddies of Central Oregon is accepting applications. So if you are an honorably discharged veteran battling PTSD you can contact Battle Buddies at cobattlebuddy@gmail.com or call them at (541) 390-7587 for an application.

They also have a website: battlebuddiesco.org

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