Sioux Falls Veterans using dogs for therapy - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Sioux Falls Veterans using dogs for therapy

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22 veterans commit suicide every day.

Lots of it stems from PTSD and anxiety problems.

One Sioux Falls veteran found help through a different kind of therapy.

Rob Dickerson has a service dog.

He was the first in South Dakota to get a dog from Big Paws Canine and said he notices the help the dog brings him every day.

"If I went out shopping it would be in the middle of the night when nobody was there," said Dickerson.

When he returned from Iraq he tried therapy programs at the VA to help with his anxiety.

"It got the point where I'd exhausted almost all of those options," he said.

That's when he found Artie.

"It's just like our battle buddies that we had in combat. The only ones you have are the people on your left and your right, your front and your rear and you take care of one an other and Arties' the same thing for me," said Dickerson.

And he's made the world of difference.

"He gives me that freedom and comfort so I can go out and it's not a major issue with anxiety and stress. He helps reduce that," he continued.

Rob's wife, Gail, said she gets to see her husband smile again.

"What actually means the most to me is being able to see my husband sit in his chair, with the dog laying on top of him and seeing the two relaxing and watching television. Because for the longest time I wasn't able to see my husband relax. And that's hard," said Gail.

But it's not just Rob who gets help from a service dog.

Veteran Robert Solorzano has Huey.

"Huey's given me the ability to actually go out and intermingle and socialize," he said.

Solorzano added he was in a dark place before he got Huey, but now he's able to take time for himself, and have his own battle buddy.

"He makes all the difference in the world to me. There's really no other way to put it," said Solorzano

Gail said knowing that Rob calls Artie his battle buddy brings her more joy than anyone can know.

Because it elevates the dog's status in Rob's life.

And she said that helps her sleep at night.

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