US Air Force veteran with PTSD says her service dog saved her
SAN ANTONIO – Life after military service can be a huge adjustment, as was the case for Shiloh Schluterman, a veteran of the US Air Force. She enlisted in the service in 1999 and retired in 2014. While her life is apparently normal now, it hasn’t always been so.
She finished her time in the Air Force as part of the command of maintenance operations, as a production controller. Schluterman says that after her last return from deployment, she was not the same.
“I was pretty non-functional after I came back from Afghanistan in 2012. I just had a really tough time and pulled out of it all. I didn’t know what was going on, ”Schluterman said.
Schluterman said she couldn’t even walk into a supermarket without going into a complete panic attack.
“Things would happen at the grocery store where someone would grab me from behind, and I would have a complete panic attack, dissociate myself from where I was, from what was going on,” Schluterman said.
The effects of PTSD not only wreaked havoc on Schluterman, but also on his family. She said she was always afraid of embarrassing her husband and four children.
“Then I would stay at home. So basically I just quit life and quit living and got to a point where I was on extended exposure therapy. I was on a lot of different VA medications, but I had no joy. I wasn’t living, and then my family stopped living, ”Schluterman said.
But there was a moment of awareness. Schluterman said she needs to understand this and take charge of her life to fight her PTSD.
“Someone told me about K9s for Warriors, and they said maybe a service dog could help, and I was like, ‘I don’t know how that would be possible. “But it was that little, tiny bit of hope that maybe something could change,” Schluterman said.
K9s for Warriors is a non-profit organization dedicated to defeating veteran suicide and helping to alleviate symptoms of PTSD in veterans. It provides trained service dogs for veterans who may also suffer from head trauma and / or military sexual trauma.
K9s for Warriors COO Jason Snodgrass says he remembers meeting Schluterman early in the program’s formation and added that his transformation has been remarkable.
“I know Shiloh very well and remember her the first day she came to class in 2015. She is now a 180 degree different person. She smiles regularly. She is outgoing. She is happy. And I just remember when she came to class she was consumed with anxiety. She was afraid of everything around her, ”Snodgrass said.
Schluterman enrolled in the K9s for Warriors program and waited 14 months before beginning the required training with a service dog. It was a three-week training that would introduce her to her new furry friend – a friend who would ultimately save her life.
“They taught me how it was going to help me, how he was going to let me know if there was someone behind me so that I wouldn’t be caught off guard just by leaning his head against me or resting his paw.” on my foot. So walking with it people don’t get that close, ”Schluterman said.
She has now been with her K9 for six years and says they are rarely separated.
“It’s just that bond with him that was created there. I can’t even explain. It was like an instant thing – like he knew me better than I knew myself, ”Schluterman said.
Now the same program that helped Schluterman will arrive in San Antonio. The Petco Love K9 Center will open its doors this fall. It will be a collaborative effort between Petco Love, K9’s for Warriors and the City of San Antonio.
A $ 2 million grant provided by Petco Love will go towards the construction of the 5,000 square foot facility and 30 kennels right next to San Antonio Animal Care Services.
Snodgrass says K9s for Warriors has paired nearly 700 veterans with service dogs and saved more than 1,300 dogs in total.
“We anticipate that we will be at 100% of our operating capacity here by the first part of September,” said Snodgrass.
Veterans wishing to obtain training information can visit www.k9sforwarriors.org.
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