Service Peace Warriors wants to help vets with PTSD get a specia - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Service Peace Warriors wants to help vets with PTSD get a special furry companion

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KENNEWICK, WA - Are you or someone you know a veteran who suffers from PTSD? A local non-profit is working to connect local vets with a companion to help them physically and mentally.

Mission Support Alliance hosted an event today for people to get to know this group and the people it's helping.

A dog named Henry helps Jesus Cortez - a Navy vet who served for more than two decades - handle his post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cortez and Henry have only been friends for a couple weeks now, but Cortez says his four-legged companion is already making a huge difference in his day-to-day life.

"I'm able to go out in public without anxiety, panic attacks," said Cortez. "He kind of keeps people at a distance from me. He can sense when I get a little anxious, when I get nervous. He kind of nudges me or scoots closer to me."

Cortez heard an ad for Service Peace Warriors, an organization out of north Franklin County that trains service dogs and then matches them up with veterans who need them to help fight the ongoing battle PTSD brings.

Service Peace Warriors has been around just over a year, and the group has a goal of matching six veterans and dogs up every year. They say the early response has been surreal.

"Our veterans have said multiple times this is changing our lives," said Eric Mattox, vice president of Service Peace Warriors. "That's the biggest compliment we could get, because that's what we're trying to do here, is change our veterans' lives."

The best part about the program? It's completely free for veterans who think they may need help. In many cases, it costs thousands to get a service dog...so Cortez says the opportunity to get a service dog for free opened a door for him he otherwise wouldn't have had.

"Service Peace Warriors is out there to help," he said. "I'm very grateful."

Cortez says other veterans who are struggling should reach out and give the program a shot. That's exactly what he did, and Service Peace Warriors made the process as smooth as possible.

"I would say to other veterans, reach out for help. It's there."

Help is out there; and for Cortez, help is right by his side.

If you'd like to donate, or if you are or know of a vet and you want more information, visit their website at http://servicepeacewarriors.org/.

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