BROOKSVILLE (FOX 13) - Armed service members are trained for battle, but not all are trained on the next chapter when they return home. Thankfully, there are places like K9 Partners for Patriots in Brooksville looking to change that.
Wil Del-Valle left the U.S. Marine Corps in the early 1990s, but didn't feel comfortable leaving his house, let alone going to a crowded place like a grocery store. He was told a service dog would help with his issues, but it would take years to happen.
He tells FOX 13 he almost gave up hope until K9 Partners for Patriots entered the picture. It partners veterans with pets for service-related issues, like PTSD. But, he wasn't sure he would qualify.
"I had been told "no" so many times," Del-Valle explained. "My wife held my hand and said it was going to be OK. They looked at my papers and she said, 'Welcome to the family' and my heart sank and tears started running down my face."
He now works as a veteran liaison for the organization, and invites all veterans to see if they qualify. Stores, doctors office, and grocery stores. His paired dog, Bella, is provided free of charge. The pets not only help them get back to a better life, they can sense panic attacks, seizures, and are even trained to help someone get up when they've fallen down.
"This is it. This is where I am supposed to be. To finally be able to laughing without restriction...it's a hell of a feeling," Del-Valle explained. "I found my purpose. All you want is a little peace. When you get it, you never want to let it go."
To learn more about K9 Partners for Patriots, head to their website: www.K9PartnersforPatriots.com.
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