A new non-profit in Central Arkansas is training dogs and pairing them with their new best friends.
Wherever you find Dustin Warren, you're sure to find his puppy, Jake.
"Having him around has been a lifesaver," said Warren.
While in the Army, Warren served two tours in Iraq where he lost friends and says he saw things no one should ever see.
"Since I got out , I'd say the past four or five years, it's steady. The PTSD has gotten worse," he said. "It got to where it overtook everything that I did."
But Warren has turned a corner thanks in part to "A Veteran's Best Friend." The new
non-profit is training veterans and dogs in Jacksonville.
Director Greg Sporer and service dog Sparky are leading the push to get more service dogs in the hands of vets like Warren who suffer from nightmares, depression, and isolation.
"It's more than just a companion," said Sporer. "They actually get the veteran out. The depression lifts. There's healing with a service dog."
Jake is still working on basic obedience now, but after 15 months of training, he'll wear a vest marking him a service dog, which means he can go anywhere with Warren, even the grocery store.
Jake's already proving to be a big help. He can sense when Warren's adrenaline gets too high. "He's already woke me up from 2 nightmares since I've had him," he said.
He's sleeping better and now holding down a steady job for the first time in years.
"So many veterans, when they isolate, they're not going to apply for a job, or they can't keep a job," said Sporer.
"So that's our goal- to get them back to work."
A Veteran's Best Friend comes at just the right time. The VA recently scrapped its service dog program for vets with PTSD due to budget constraints, leaving Arkansas without any programs like this.
If you want to help out or learn more, visit www.servicedog4ptsd.org