AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – In the military, the term “got your six” means “I’ve got your back,” and one local non-profit strives to provide that with their service.
Hope Lives Here provides service dogs to veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, or chronic pain disorders and adds another layer of support for those who served.
Through Hope Lives Here, eligible veterans are not obligated out of pocket for their service dogs.
Hope Lives Here is unique as they rescue dogs from local shelters, pair them with a veteran, and the two train as a team.
“For us, it’s very important that they regain their independence and that they are able to do things that we take for granted. Whether that be going to the grocery store alone, driving at night, or attending family functions,” said Brooke Schneider, founder and president of Hope Lives Here.
Schneider said according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service dog can be any breed. She added when they go to a shelter they look for dogs that are at least 50 pounds and the age of one or two.
James Miller, a veteran and graduate of Hopes Lives Here said the organization helped him find himself again.
“Prior to the military, I was that fun guy to be around. I joked and laughed. I made everybody else laugh. Kinda center of the room, the center of the attention, if you want to classify it as that. Once I came back I kind of lost that side of me. Once I got booker and I started training, I was starting to feel with each day like I was getting more of that back,” said Miller.
Miller said training next to his dog Booker in the program brought back the sense of brotherhood and trust that he had in the military.
“I kinda let go of that burden on me because I knew that no matter what happened that day, no matter how bad of a day I had or whatever I could trust he had me. He was going to be able to bring me out and help me get through that day,” added Miller.
Schneider said this is another level of support for local veterans to connect with the world again.
“As you may or may not know, 22 veterans die by suicide daily in America. That is one of every one hour and 20 minutes and so I feel it’s important as a community for us to do more for our veterans. I think once they return home from fighting for us, we should be prepared to fight for them,” said Schneider.
Schneider said one of their favorite days at Hope Lives Here is dog selection day, where the veteran picks what dog they want.