GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- Dozens of area military veterans are praising a new program that aims to help those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other disabilities.
Faithful Friend Ministry was founded in 1999 by Les Castro. For years, Castro has been ministering to juvenile offenders with his service dog Pepper by his side. Now, through his new program he is helping veterans get re-acclimated into civilian life by giving them a service dog of their own.
Chevis Geihsler and Doc Blevins have served multiple tours overseas and now suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"For awhile I was living with my family because it was hard to go out in public by myself," Geishler said.
"A lot of isolation. A lot of staying at the house. Just a lot of loneliness," Blevins said.
That was their life before they met Rosie and Buster
"It was just love at first sight and he came up to me and he hugged me and he kissed me, and he just followed me around and I was his universe and he was my universe," Blevins said.
Blevins and Geihsler are the first two veterans who have received service dogs through the Faithful Friend Ministry's K-9 program. They say their pets have changed their life.
"Having Rosie it's enabled me to go out do my own thing, on my own schedule," Geishler said.
"Buster has helped me get out into the world again, a healthy lifestyle. We go to the lakes a lot, we run, we do walks," Blevins said.
"What really makes dogs incredibly helpful to a veteran who suffers from PTSD, they will sense anxiety and do things to calm the veteran down," Castro said.
Ministry President Les Castro says the dogs were donated and Geisher and Blevins are success stories of the new free program. Castro says Rosie and Buster were trained by professionals, but eventually he hopes to have former juvenile offenders in Grayson County help train the dogs for the veterans.
"We'll pay them for the work that they've been doing, getting that dog to that point, gives them money for some tuition or a car," Castro said.
Castro says his goals for the program are to help both young people and veterans get back on their feet and find a purpose in life.
"When I wake up in the morning I have a mission and that's to take care of him, and it's kind of like his mission too," Blevins said.
The program officially kicked off Monday after receiving a generous donation from the Thelma Braun and Brockett Family Foundation. To learn how you can donate funds, or apply for a service dog visit http://www.faithfulfriend.org/.