RENSSELAER, N.Y. – A dog shower was held Wednesday in Rensselaer for a local veteran receiving a therapy dog to help with his PTSD.
Cpl. Jeremy Walton suffers from PTSD after serving overseas, and his new companion Alana will seek to alleviate his stress.
Alana, a 9-month-old Chocolate lab, won't arrive from Washington until August 21st but a dog shower was held to help prepare Walton for his new friend. Dog items and donations for her future medical needs were collected at the event.
Walton enlisted at the age of 18, but with a family history of military service, it wasn't a surprise.
"My dad was a Marine, my mom was a Marine," he said. "I was confused, I was scared, didn't know what to do, didn't know what to expect."
He went on to serve two tours in Iraq, and he said he returned home with PTSD, injuries, and felt lost.
"My first year back I was homeless," he said. "My relationship with my family, it's dwindled away, due to my PTSD and TBI"
Now, going through a divorce, he said he feels that he wasn't strong enough to deal with his problems on his own, and he ended up emotionally hurting his family.
"For our daughter's safety, they moved away," he said.
Walton found hope in the idea of a service dog, a companion, and he applied for one. It included a mountain of paper work, but after months of trying, a glimmer of hope broke through the darkness.
He says Mary Ellen from Stride called asked if he was still trying for a service dog, telling him she knew of someone who may be able to help.
Ellen from Stride, a group that works to improve the lives of veterans, had found a program called Shepherds for Lost Sheep which offers dogs that are trained to understand certain emotions.
Walton later found out he'll soon be joined with Alana.
"It's just one of those you look at that face and you melt," he said. "I think I probably cried for about an hour, I just kept thinking, she'll be here soon."