Veteran sees life improvement after he gets service dog

- It is no secret that many veterans require help, and Patriot Paws is one but many organizations that train service dogs for disabled veterans.

The training process can be difficult for both the veteran and the dog, but some might ask the question: does the veteran choose the dog, or the other way around?

The answer, quite possibly, may be a little bit of both, at least for Justin Ross.

"I came back in 2005 from Iraq," said Ross. He served the Army for eight years, and he was also hit by an IED.

"Even my buddies, they don't know how I survived," recounted Ross. "My shadow, my footprint, the bottom of my boot, was burnt to the ground. I just got lucky."

Ross is suffering from medical issues after the injuries he sustained.

"I have several broken vertebrae in my lower back, they never healed," said Ross. "So, I got bone spurs that are in my Spinal Cord inside, from my knee down. I have mobility issues."

Besides his physical ailments, Ross also suffers from PTSD.

"Makes me emotional now," said Ross. "It just hits you like a brick, like a sledge hammer to the chest. You get triggers, then you crash."

For years, Ross suffered alone. He tried counseling and medication, but nothing worked. Justin and his wife eventually looked into service dogs. He got in touch with Texas-based Patriot Paws, and after a few years on the waiting list, Ross got the call he was hoping for.

It was his turn to visit the training facility, and learn how to work a dog. 

On the first five days, veterans work with several different dogs to find the one who best matches their needs, and on the fifth day, they find out which dog they get to take home. Ross said he has experienced a difference.

"I haven't had anger outbursts at home," said Ross. "I go home, I talk to the family about the dogs...I don't yell."

While Patriot Paws is based in Houston, they accept applications from soldiers across the country. To learn more, click here.

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