74ºF

Army veteran gets 4-legged best friend

Rebuilding Warriors help military veterans with PTSD

SAN ANTONIO – Dog owners know just how happy a furry friend can make us feel.

For those with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, having a dog isn't just about happiness and for one U.S. Army veteran, a new dog isn't just his best friend. 

Thanks to Rebuilding Warriors, they're using a service dog to help him adjust to civilian life.

Echo looks like the average dog who loves all treats and chewy toys, but technically she's in training. Jeff Anderson, the founder and CEO of Rebuilding Warriors, said her sweet demeanor made her perfect for Army veteran Joseph Harwell.

"When we found her, she's very very soft, very loving and very eager to please you," said Anderson.

Rebuilding Warriors provides service dogs to veterans. Echo will be the fifth dog placed with a service member this year. The unconditional love from the dog teaches service members to ignore self-imposed limitations.

Echo may be one year old but she's got six months of training that will allow Harwell to reintegrate back into society.

"Oh it's been rough, I've had ups and downs and my lows," said Harwell.

Harwell was diagnosed with PTSD. He was active in the military for 10 years and served two tours of duty. After being honorably discharged seven years ago, Harwell said civilian life has been difficult.  "It will be a good companion to take out with me and help me with everyday things," said Harwell.

Anderson said Echo can help Harwell deal with certain parts of PTSD, by helping the veteran relax.

"Sometimes emotions run high either aggressively or they become introverts so the dog balances that out," said Harwell.

Echo is a gift that Harwell has been wanting for a long time. Rebuilding Warriors is a non-profit organization that needs donations to train the dogs and match them with both active duty service members and honorably discharged veterans like Harwell.

To donate or learn more about service dogs, go to the Rebuilding Warriors website.