Puppy Power Helps Utah Veterans Fight PTSD

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ROY — Our military put their lives on the line for us, pushing themselves physically, mentally and emotionally to protect our freedoms.

It is not uncommon for veterans returning to civilian life to sometimes face additional challenges.

A Roy family with military and first responder training had a litter of lab puppies and wanted to give one to a local veteran.

He got so much bigger.

Jarvie Curtis just met one of the puppies, Lima. Curtis is a Navy veteran who served four years of active duty, including three tours in Iraq.

“We’re going to have fun, huh?” he said to Lima.

She is the newest and hairiest in the family.

“There was this vacancy. I tried to fill that void with other businesses, other animals, things like that,” Curtis said. “She’ll probably give me my money’s worth, but I’m never one to back down from a challenge.”

Lima will also be a service dog for Curtis.

“I’ve struggled with PTSD since my separation from the military, different coping mechanisms. I’ve been through the full spectrum that most veterans do, from self-medicating to traditional medical help,” a- he declared. “(The puppy is) just someone there to let me know it’s okay when I feel like it’s not.”

Lima and brother Tango are making 15 and 16 puppies placed with veterans or first responders through IGY6_22, a Hooper-based veteran nonprofit.

The nonprofit’s VA liaison, Shane Salmon, has a puppy of his own. He said these animals would help vets get some of their lives back.

“It was life changing to be able to go out in public again,” Salmon said.

Brian Helback is president of IGY6_22. He also has one of the dogs.

“Why did I come home and not the others?” he said a lot of vets are wondering. “And I firmly believe that after doing all of that, that’s why I came home. To help my brothers and sisters in arms and let them know they’re not alone.”

For Curtis, that vacancy he was talking about is now filled.

Karah Brackin

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