You know the saying 'a dog is a man's best friend'? One group of veterans in Colorado Springs is taking that meaning to a whole other level.
“He’s like my lifesaver, he can tell when I’m having a panic attic before I even know it,” said Dixie Lynn Stepisnik, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
Stepisnik's road to recovery made possible by 'Wings N' Warriors", a non-profit led by Deborah Davidson, that trains service dogs for free for other veterans.
“He’s my best friend and I wouldn’t be here without him,” said Stepisnik.
The group trains service dogs on a variety of skills to help with seizures, panic attacks, and even mobility.
“It’s for vets and that’s why it’s so important to me ... is to help vets," said Rob McKennan, the group's fundraising chair. "There’s so many vets that slip through the cracks; 21 suicides by veterans a day is uncalled for.”
Inspired by his healing, McKennan and his colleagues are convinced these dogs safe lives.
“We’ll help the vet with micro chipping, vaccines, food, and vet expenses for the first year if they need it,” said McKennan.
Case and point with Stepisnik, who contemplated hurting herself before her dog Diesel became a part of her llife.
"He's everything to me, he's a lifesaver," she said.
A typical service dog costs anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000, but Wings N' Warriors does it all for free.
The group has placed 24 dogs with veterans in our community over the past five years.
What's Wings N' Warriors?
“Wings and Warriors mission is to provide highly trained service dogs to assist and enhance the quality of life for those afflicted with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)
Though we started as just for veterans, and our primary focus is still veterans, we will also help first responders as well. It's all at no cost to any of them -- 100% of proceeds go to the veterans. We operate completely on volunteers and donations.
We assist in finding and evaluating dogs as potential service dogs, as we are very particular about the dogs. We ensure that the dog and person choose each other to ensure a good bond.
We train the pair together from day one. We help with potty training, Basic obedience, create training, all the way through certification. We encourage our members to post videos of their training between classes. Our trainers are always available to answer questions, help with issues that come up or for general questions.
We assist our members in need, with Microchipping, vaccines, food and spay/neutering."
If you're interested in getting involved or donating, click here.