Lexington group uses dogs to combat veteran PTSD

LEXINGTON, N.C. -- James Dean was in the Marine Corps from 2005 to 2014, deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan.  He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome and found adjusting to coming home can be a daily struggle.

Dean explains, “When you’re on deployment, you don’t know who your friend is and who’s your enemy, so you’re always being watchful and being alert.  And it’s the same thing here.”

He sought help through Saving Grace K9 Rescue, a local non-profit that matches Veterans to service dogs.

Brigette Parsons started the organization in hopes of making the transition to civilian life easier, and ease the pain and anxiety many Veterans experience while deployed. Clients can use their personal dog if it passes a behavioral assessment (as in Dean’s case), or they will be matched up with a dog from a local rescue.

A service dog is able to sense and alert when their owner is anxious, often before the owner is aware.  The dog can then redirect its owner to focus and get control of the panic.  Veterans and their dogs are trained at no cost to the Veterans.

“Life for me now is a lot better,” says Dean, “I know that with him there, I can go anywhere.  He’s got my back.”

Saving Grace K9’s is a non-profit and survives on donations as well as the sale of handmade items in their offices.  They are also renting their space in Lexington, but will soon have to leave due to the sale of that property.  Parsons is hoping to find a new location in the Lexington area.

If you want more information or wish to make a donation, visit www.savinggracek9s.com.