Local veteran finds passion for life again after being paired with her service dog, Delta

UT Health San Antonio has multiple programs to help veterans struggling with PTSD

Now an Air Force veteran of 12 years, Sarah knew she wanted to be in the military at a young age.

Sarah, who has chosen not to identify her full name, joined the armed forces in 2009, as a dental assistant and then went on to perform aircraft maintenance.

Her life took a turn when she started experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.

“PTSD for me had looked like self-isolating, and nightmares, panic attacks and just not having a very good quality of living,” said Sarah.

Dr. Alan Peterson, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio said PTSD can show up in different ways.

“There are about 20 different symptoms that exist. They do fold into some main clusters or types of symptoms. One is avoidance. There’s hyper-arousal symptoms. So, people will feel worked up, you know, physically. And then they also have what is called re-experiencing symptoms. So, they will sometimes have flashbacks or nightmares,” Dr. Peterson said.

After feeling like she had tried everything, Sarah reached out to a friend who told her about K9s for Warriors, a non-profit that pairs veterans suffering from PTSD with service animals.

And that’s when she met Delta, a 2-year-old golden doodle.

“Delta changed my life, and he did it in such a short amount of time, when I have panic attacks Delta will come and sit on my feet, or put his chin on my leg or alert me in some way shape or form, when my heart rate is getting elevated,” said Sarah.

With Delta by her side, Sarah can enjoy life again.

“One of the things I had wanted to do since I moved here was go to a San Antonio Spurs game and I was like I can’t do it alone; I can’t do it. Since I’ve had Delta, I’ve been to two games, and I had so much fun” Sarah said.

Over the past 15 years, Dr. Peterson says over 6,000 people have been treated for PTSD at UT Health San Antonio. He wants veterans to know there is help.

“The goal is not just to label somebody with the disorder, but to make sure that they can be provided good care, so there is hope,” Dr. Peterson continued, “but don’t don’t give up. If the very first treatment you try, does not work for you.”

To find out more information about PTSD and treatments you can visit the VA’s National Center for PTSD.

If you’re interested in learning more about K9s for Warriors you can head to their website.

About the Author

Katelyn Silva started her career at KSAT 12 in May 2022 as a producer trainee and is now a Good Morning San Antonio weekend producer. Katelyn is a San Antonio native and earned a communications degree from Texas A&M-San Antonio. Katelyn likes to practice yoga, bullet journal and hang out with family and friends in her free time.

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