Canine companions helping heal veteran wounds

NEW YORK (PIX11) – There is no greater bond than that between a man and his dog. Witness the relationship between 70-year-old Vietnam War veteran Chris Quiren and Layla, his 10-month-old Labrador, a dog he credits with transforming his life.

Layla is a loving companion to the Manhasset man who was nearly killed by a landmine and who for decades endured the demons of post-traumatic stress. “Scars are not all physical,” he notes, adding that “the real scars are the internal scars.”

For Quiren, a Purple Heart recipient, the cloud of despair began to lift last summer when the veterans support group, Operation Canine Companion, provided him with Layla, then 7 months old. It was a moment Quiren will never forget. His eyes sparkle as he reflects, “She jumped on my chest and my knees and sat on my chest and I think we have found a perfect companion. She had the most beautiful eyes.

Such a touching moment was made possible by the non-profit group Operation Canine Companion, part of a program of “Operation Warrior Shield”, a group that provides a wide range of support to veterans and other heroes for the help heal their hidden wounds. of war.

Bethann Carbone, the group’s spokeswoman, said “our goal is to provide loving, newly trained dogs to military, veterans and first responders, people who have experienced trauma in the line of duty. “.

Army Sergeant. Carlos Figueroa, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after being hit by an IED in Iraq, is another early beneficiary of the program. He says his companion Louie, a yellow Labrador Retriever, has made his life better.

The support group teamed up with the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation to train dogs over a six-month period. They assess each dog’s temperament and how they might respond to requests. Training each dog costs $5,000, which is provided by public donations.

Carbone points out: “During this training, the beneficiary also receives training.

For Quiren, there’s no doubt that Layla is his new best friend. “I don’t know what’s about his presence, but his presence keeps me from getting into these depressed mood swings,” he said.

Companion dogs like Layla bring a sense of security, companionship, and special emotional support to their heroes. They actually help transform the lives of veterans who, in one way or another, are still dealing with the ravages of combat.

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