Veterans with post-traumatic stress often find that crowded places can trigger them to have an anxiety attack. Things many of us take for granted, like going to the grocery store or eating at a restaurant, are difficult for someone suffering from the disorder.
Nonprofit organization Patriot Paws hopes by giving veterans a service dog; they will be able to get back to a normal routine. That’s why army veteran Alice Crosby applied for a dog from the organization.
It has been decades since Crosby donned her Army uniform, but while her days as an active duty soldier are long gone, the memories of what she went through are everlasting.
“I have PTSD due to MST which is military sexual trauma and my PTSD was getting worse and worse and I didn't want to go out,” said Crosby.
Alice said she has trouble visiting any place with crowds of people. Airports, stores, restaurants, even her grandchildren's sporting events can cause her anxiety to spike out of control.
“The biggest one is getting through an airport,” Crosby said.
With members of her immediate family more than 1,000 miles away, Alice has had to miss so many special moments she can't ever get back.
“I want to be able to go. I want to be able to see my family,” said Crosby.
But one day Alice’s psychiatrist had an unconventional idea. She had heard of a nonprofit organization that trained service dogs for disabled veterans and Alice applied for a dog.
“That was back in December 2012 and I've had ups and downs since then, but now here I am,” Crosby said.
For almost four years she waited for that call.
“But I started volunteering here a year and a half ago and that has made the wait not as bad,” said Crosby.
After helping out at Patriot PAWS she was even more hopeful that a dog could lick her invisible wounds.
“My dog's going to allow me to do things I haven't been able to do for years,” Crosby said.
In October, Alice learned she was at the top of the waiting list.
“I'm going to get my life back,” she said.
It was time for her to start training with the available service dogs to see which one was the best match and it didn't take long before the pups proved how helpful their presence could be when their person is going through a rough spot.
“When I feel confronted my first impulse is to walk away and instead I'm able to turn around and just hug on the dog and immediately feel diffused as far as the anxiety level,” said Crosby.
So when the day came that Alice learned which dog would guide her through the ups and downs, her excitement was almost overwhelming.
“Logan has been so perfect with me. I've worked with all the dogs, but Wednesday I had a bad time. Then Logan came back up to me and he just looked in my eyes and licked me and had this look in his eyes like I'm going to fix whatever's wrong with you. So when they said I got Logan it was the best. He's going to be my dog,” Crosby said.
Now, when the memories of darker days creep back into Alice’s mind, the light in Logan’s eyes leads her out of the shadows.
“Life can be scary, but these dogs, they're savers,” said Crosby.
In order to cut down on the wait time for veterans in need, Patriot PAWS needs volunteers and donations. To donate, volunteer, apply for a dog, or learn more about the organization visit patriotpaws.org.