'Battle Buddies' to help C.O. veterans battling PTSD

Training service dogs to add support and comfort

POSTED: 8:00 PM PST November 11, 2013    UPDATED: 8:02 PM PST November 11, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

When wounded heroes come home from war, some of their wounds are visible to the naked eye, while others are more than skin deep.

"Twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide -- that's one almost every 65 minutes," said Battle Buddies of Central Oregon Executive Director Kristina Olson said Monday. "So every hour, every time you look at your clock, someone is fighting a battle."

Defense officials said in a Associated Press article Monday there have been 245 suicides this year by active-duty service members, as of Oct. 27.

It's a frightening number, but not as shocking when you look  at the statistics.

The PTSD Foundation of America says one in three returning troops is diagnosed with serious post traumatic stress symptoms, but fewer than 40 percent will seek help.

"They fought for us, we need to fight for them -- because they're still fighting, even though they're home," said Kristina.

Kristina Olson comes from a military family, and now she's married to an Army veteran.

"(I was) deployed in 2009 to Cob Speicher -- it's right outside of Tikrit Saddam's hometown," said Army Sgt. John Olson.

The two recently joined the fight to help those battling PTSD.

"Basically, we just want to get dogs to vets that need that extra support," said John Olson.

Olson and his wife are spearheading a new non-profit, Battle Buddies of Central Oregon.

Using the program method from the national program, "Train a Dog Save a Warrior,'" the non-profit will train PTSD service dogs at no cost to the veteran.

"Dogs are very non-judgmental, so they're a constant companion when sometimes that veteran might be a little bit to deal with," Kristina said.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a dog can lift your mood or help you feel less stressed. They can also remind veterans they're home in the States.

Veterans nationwide who already have a furry companion say it helps to have a battle buddy.

"They deal with it in their own ways, and some people like the dog to be always right by their side, and you know, feed on their emotions when they need it. And it really helps them out," said John Olson.

Battle Buddies of Central Oregon is accepting applications. So if you are an honorably discharged veteran battling PTSD you can contact Battle Buddies at cobattlebuddy@gmail.com or call them at (541) 390-7587 for an application. They also are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cobattlebuddy

The non-profit is also looking for donations to help with the training costs, as well as volunteers.