FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Eight military veterans, some of whom have post-traumatic stress disorder, joined on Saturday morning at the Veteran Memorial Shrine & Museum with their service dogs.
The nonprofit Our Turn to Serve organized the event for veterans to bond with each other and sharpen their training skills among service dogs.
Our Turn to Serve, based in Roanoke, assists Indiana's veterans in improving their quality of life notably by providing those suffering from PTSD with service dogs through an extensive pairing process.
Army veteran Russell Goodman says, "Today is helping people heal. They won't think about their pain since the dog is present."
Tamara Goodman, Russell's wife and also an Army veteran says functioning "regularly" in society can sometimes be a challenge for military veterans with PTSD.
But she says Saturday’s event provided an opportunity for the veterans to show their support for each other.
“It helps us to stay connected, gives each other ideas on what's working, or if some are still struggling,” said Goodman. “We can try to address that and hone in more on some skills."
Our Turn to Serve dog trainer Mike Rowland encourages civilians to have more empathy when they recognize a veteran with their service dog.
"Because they look like they have no injuries doesn't mean their isn't something seriously needing attention inside them,” said Rowland. “The fact of the matter is, these war wounds are internal and they're deep and these dogs are helping this person navigate so they can live a normal life."
Rowland suggests that civilians don’t pet service dogs as they’re trained specifically for the veteran with whom they’re paired.
He says therapy dogs may be pet if asked by their handler.
If you'd like to donate to Our Turn to Serve to help more local veterans become paired with service dogs, click here.