HEALTHY MIND MATTERS

Puppy power helps Utah vets battle PTSD

May 3, 2022, 2:39 PM | Updated: May 4, 2022, 11:33 am

ROY, Utah — Our military service members put their lives on the line for us, pushing themselves physically, mentally and emotionally to protect our freedoms.

It’s not uncommon for vets returning to civilian life sometimes face other challenges.

A Roy family with a military and first responder background had a litter of lab puppies and wanted to donate one to a local veteran.

It became so much bigger.

Jarvie Curtis just met one of the puppies, Lima. Curtis is a Marine veteran who served four years of active duty, including three tours in Iraq.

“We’re going to have some fun, huh?” he said to Lima.

She is the newest and furriest addition to the family.

“There’s been this vacancy. I’ve tried to fill that void with other ventures, other animals, things like that,” Curtis said. “She’ll probably give me a run for my money but I’m never one to back down from a challenge.”

Lima will also be a service dog for Curtis.

“I’ve been battling with PTSD since my separation from the military, different coping mechanisms. I’ve gone through the whole array most veterans do from self-medicating to traditional medical help,” he said. “It’s just somebody there to let me know things are okay when I don’t feel like things are okay.”

Lima and her brother Tango make pups 15 and 16 placed with veterans or first responders through IGY 622, a Hooper-based veteran nonprofit.

The nonprofit’s VA liaison Shane Salmon has a puppy himself. He said these animals will help vets get back a part of their life.

“It’s been life-changing being able to go out in public again,” Salmon said.

Brian Helback is president of IGY622. He also has one of the dogs.

“Why did I come home and others didn’t?” he said a lot of vets ask themselves. “And I firmly believe after doing all this, this is the reason I came home. To help my brothers and sisters in arms and let them know they’re not alone.”

For Curtis, that vacancy he was talking about is now filled.

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Puppy power helps Utah vets battle PTSD