Support in the Form of Four Paws

By Christin Barden, AW2 Advocate and Air Force Veteran

AW2 Advocate and Air Force Veteran Christin Barden, pictured above with her husband Edward, intends to help manage her PTSD and TBI with the help of her dog Bravo and training from Paws and Stripes.

Last week I was introduced to my new best friend. He is a rescued, 12-month-old black lab I named Bravo. Like any good friend, he provides me physical and emotional support when needed, helps calm my anxieties, and unlike humans, never judges me.

Although I have had tremendous support from Family and friends when I found out I was receiving my dog, several people questioned why I need Bravo to help me face my injuries. People wanted to know how I could benefit from him.

The people closest to me understand, but others in our communities and even in the AW2 community may not realize the significant impact from a canine companion. This is when I realized that I had an opportunity to educate people about the invisible wounds of war and how dogs like Bravo, can play a part in healing.

I am a Veteran and an AW2 Advocate who has post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury, and mobility issues. Most people think I have it all together, however very few know about the level of pain, stress, anxiety, and sometimes depression that I live with every day since my military service.

Bravo helps me attain freedom that I have not experienced in a long time. Although we are bonding really well and already in love, we have a lot of work to do together and I am looking forward to our journey together.

Every week we will work with trainers and will face challenges that are far outside our comfort levels. The training will force both of us to confront our anxieties and in the end, this experience will teach us both to trust again. I guess it is like going through basic training again. Although I may get some barks at me, I won’t get any yelling. Stay posted for more information about my adventure in the coming months.

Editor’s note: The expressed comments and views of guest bloggers do not reflect the views of WTC or the United States Army.

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