Washington prison trains dogs to help veterans cope with PTSD

Posted at 11:27 PM, Jul 30, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-30 23:27:21-04

Right now about 600, 000 veterans are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Now a prison in Washington is helping to train dogs to help them cope.

One inmate knows how important these dogs can be.

“I want to be able to help every veteran not do what I did and end up where I am at," says Scott Kostelecky, an Iraq War veteran. He took part in the invasion in 2003 and suffers from PTSD.

“They calm you. It’s great to have around. It’s almost like they become a part of you. You know like a kid, if you have kids. It’s like the same thing you become attached to them in that way.”

The dogs are meant to help veterans cope with day-to-day activities.  It can be hard for many after experiencing the horrors of war. Scott's experience is still fresh in his mind. He remembers traveling in a truck when they accidentally ran over a small Iraqi child.

“He was torn in half. There was nothing I could do for him, and I was a combat life saver which is first line medics and there was nothing I could do for him. He was still breathing and I had to put adrenaline into his heart and I put him down.

When he returned home, coping was too hard and he turned to drugs and eventually landed in prison. But now, he is giving back to his fellow veterans.

“It allows me to feel good about what I’m doing even though I am in here and I’ve committed my crimes and I gotta do some time. I’m giving back to this country like I did before when I served it, and that`s what we gotta do for our veterans.

The program began in March under the guidance of Brigadoon Service Dogs.

For Scott, it`s a way for him to help his fellow soldiers.

“The dog will also help me while I train it. Plus it’s an honor to serve this country and it’s an honor to help serve the veterans by training these dogs,” says Scott.