Help a veteran get a service dog - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Vietnam veteran battling PTSD in need of service dog

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WINSTON CO - ALA -

About 30 percent of the men and women who have spent time in war zones experience Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.  It can take a toll on the veteran, as well as family members.  In the case of Vietnam veteran, James Simpson, his house has become his prison.  He says it's his foxhole and the place he feels safe.  However, the now paranoid keeps a loaded weapon on him and at every door in his home.

Simpson is a highly-decorated member of the U.S. Army Airborne Infantry.  He was given the Purple Heart twice.  He also has several medals of valor for his bravery in fighting in Vietnam, like in the Battle of Dak To.  The heavy combat he saw in areas like Hill 875 still haunt him today.

There is hope for calming some of the flashbacks and nightmares though.  Canine Angels trains service dogs to meet specific disabilities and conditions, like Simpson's.  The nonprofit group is located in South Carolina.  Dog from Canine Angels can help, but it won't be easy for Simpson to get the service animal.  He has to raise at least $4,000.  Although the $10,000 service dogs are offered free to all veterans, the training is costly.  

Canine Angels President, Richard Kaplan says they do require a bit of a subsidy to cover the cost of training, feedings, vet care and regular business costs.  Although donations make up a large chunk of that money, Simpson will have to raise his portion.  Once he raises the $4,000, Simpson will have to stay in South Carolina for about two months for his training.  Canine Angels trainers will have to train the veteran to be a trainer.  Then, they'll find out which dog matches the veteran's needs, wants and lifestyle.  After that, the service dog will be further trained to meet that veteran's specific disability.

Kaplan says, "our mission is to give back some of the freedom to our veterans who lost theirs while protecting ours."  According to Simpson, that freedom is all he wants.  He wants to go shopping with his wife without worrying about someone coming up behind him.  He wants a "little buddy who's got his back."

If you would like to make a donation, make a check payable to:

Troops First Foundation

535 Main Street, Suite 211

Laurel, Maryland 20707.

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