Since returning home after serving 24 years and three combat tours in the U.S. Army, veteran Dan Moss has struggled in his transition to civilian life. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, has had a dramatic negative impact on his day-to-day life. But that is beginning to change. In the ten days since Moss was presented with Justice, a rescued 1-1/2 year old German shepherd trained as a PTSD Service Dog, improvements have occurred at a regular rate.
Moss’s wife, Judy, noticed that after only a few days with Justice, her husband showed fewer signs of hyper vigilance at the presentation ceremony. “Dan was able to stand almost the entire ceremony with his back to the door,” she said. “That NEVER happens.”
Moss has noticed other ways Justice is helping him. “It hasn’t been without some stress [adjusting to each other],” he explained. “That in itself helps because it gives me a single focal point, so I’m not constantly surveying the environment – I am focusing on Justice. I know he is alert and working…it’s like having another set of eyes that look around for me, much like fellow soldiers do for each other while they are in service.”
However, Justice isn’t just helping Moss. “He’s positively affecting our whole family,” Moss said. “We can go out to a restaurant now and the noise doesn’t seem to be as bothersome to me. Just being beside me, Justice gives me a single source to focus my attention on.” As Moss and Justice continue to work together, Moss hopes to mentor other veterans and help in their transition to civilian life by “offering them a lifeline during the days they can’t see light through all the darkness.”
Justice was the first of two sponsored PTSD Service Dogs, trained by Alpha K9 of Sacramento, California, which will be presented to combat wounded veterans or first responders injured in the line of duty. Both Service Dogs were sponsored and donated to SDIA by supporters at SDIA’s 3rd Annual Charity Ball on February 14. Justice was sponsored by the Jones family, including parents Brad and Tamera, and children Gentry (15), Raven (13), and Walker (11). The Joneses were thrilled to have the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the life of a veteran and his family. The sponsorship cost for each dog includes acquiring the animal, as well as providing all training and basic needs to prepare them for their new life as a PTSD Service Dog. The second Service Dog will be trained and presented in the next couple of months when matched with a Sheep Dog in Need. For more photos of the April 4th presentation, visit SDIA’s Facebook Album, “SDIA Presents PTSD Service Dog to Local Veteran.”
With the sharp increase in both suicides and the number of veterans, first responders, women and children diagnosed with PTSD, Alpha K9 is ready to make a difference in as many lives as possible. “[Alpha K9’s] success is not gauged by the number of Service Dogs we provide,” said founder, Kevin Cameron, “but by the lives we change and the families we reunite with the help of our Dogs.” Because Alpha K9 is run as a non-profit, the organization can deliver service dogs for substantially less than other organizations. This makes PTSD service dogs affordable to many more veterans, civilians and their families. For more information about Alpha K9, visit their website at AlphaK9.org.