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Service Dogs for Veterans - KOAM TV 7

Service Dogs for Veterans

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     As people across the nation enjoy a weekend - full of family, friends and celebrations of our independence - some local veterans are celebrating a *new independence* of their own.
    Brad Ardrey is one of two veterans who received a service dog from "Heartland Canines for Veterans" -- a group focused on easing the stresses of life for service men and women.
Ardrey: "He can help me walk around and stuff, you know, keep me from falling, sometimes, I don't fall often, but sometimes, and I've got him there for balance and support where I need it."
That physical support gives veterans a new "freedom" -- the freedom to be active once again.
Donaldson: "You have so much more independence, and they make your life so much better, it's just so exciting for other people to get to share that same thing."
The dogs walk side-by-side with their companion -- offering more than just physical support -- they offer emotional support as well.
Ardrey: "We've had some real stressful times in my family everything and when I start getting down, feeling a little blue, he helps me out with that."
Ardrey says he doesn't feel he suffers from PTSD -- but he still faces challenges.
Ardrey: "A psychiatrist at the VA clinic up in Mount Vernon they've told me that what I was experiencing was the exact same thing a lot of these guys that do have the PTSD experience and everything, I mean, if they're feeling what I've been feeling, it's horrible to feel that way."
To demonstrate how smart these service dogs are -- one of them 'threw out' the first pitch at the Joplin Outlaws Game.
The game took a moment to pause after the second inning -- as the dogs were presented to their new owners during a special ceremony.
Donaldson: "This is the reason we do it, when we get to see these people smile and be more comfortable with their dogs, that's the whole reason we do it."
That reason, comes with a hefty price tag --
Donaldson: "It costs $7,200 for a year of training for a dog, but, you can't put a price on what it does for a veteran."
As for what it does --
Ardrey: "This is just fabulous, I'm flabbergasted, I don't know how else to put it."

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Chris Warner
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A Joplin native, Chris first started in broadcasting at age 16 at KSNF-TV in 2004..

Chris joined the KOAM team in 2017 as an Associate Producer. In April, he moved into a full-time reporter position. He spent time from 2008 to 2016 in various retail roles around the region before returning to his passion at KOAM. Chris is excited to continue telling the stories of the four states. Chris and his wife Amber live in Joplin and have three amazing children.

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