BROOKSVILLE, Fla. - Jeff Snyder is a trainer-in-training at K9 Partners for Patriots in Brooksville.
"Almost immediately when I walked through those doors, I knew it was going to be special. Thank goodness I was right." Jeff Snyder told FOX 13.
Snyder is helping veterans navigate the partnership between the K9 and the veteran.
"I came here a few years ago and got cold feet. You have to want to be here, and that’s why it took me a year to want to be here. Once I wanted to be here, it was a whole different story," Snyder said.
Snyder plans on being a trainer and helping fellow vets at the very place that saved him. The grim reality is without K9 Partners for Patriots, without "Echo," it could have taken a very different turn.
"There are tragedies that occur every day and we know this. Would I have been one of the statistics? There is a possibility," he said. "People hurt inside and you just don’t know it. I've been in those situations where it’s very dark and she has been there for me. I don't know what would have happened if she hadn't been there."
There have been 507 veterans and dogs who have been saved in one way or another. K9 Partners for Patriots says that's why they need more space.
The goal is to move so they can expand on their 'scenario rooms' that give the dogs and veterans a simulated experience, get them used to grocery stores, banks, coffee shops and other public spaces.
For this extraordinary ordinary, giving back is giving him purpose, something that had been missing for some time now.
"Makes me a better person. Makes me feel better about myself," Snyder said. "Makes me feel like I'm a part of something bigger than myself like I did when I was in the military. It excites me, gets me out of bed. Monday nights when I tell ‘Echo’ we’re going to go train tomorrow, she perks up, gets all crazy, she can’t wait to go and says 'Daddy were going to go have some fun. We're going to do the right thing and that means so much to me."
The center opened in 2015 and serves over 200 veterans. It focuses on helping veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injury or military sexual trauma by partnering them with service dogs.
To learn more about how you can volunteer, donate or participate with K9 Partners for Patriots, head over to the organization’s website or call (352) 397-5306.