David was 28 years active duty in the army. Proud of his service but plagued with PTSD. How did ‘Loose’ change everything? And why ‘Loose?’
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It might be the most unusual name for a dog you’ve ever heard.
Does it represent the story of a veteran whose life seems footloose and fancy free?
David says was active duty in the U.S. army for 28 years. He says, “I was a rifleman with the 153rd Airborne Brigade.”
Back home, though, PTSD struck hard and didn’t stop turning his life upside down. He says trying to sleep was torture. “I would wake up literally and feel like I was in a bathtub. I was sweating,” he says.
He tried seeking help from the VA. But, he says, “The VA is good at prescribing medications.” And did the 15 or so pills he took a day help? He says no.
The agony went on for 20 years, David says.
“Oh, I had plans. I had plans,” he says about the possibility of suicide.
His time in Vietnam was rugged, but the worst part was learning about his brother’s death. “I still have the telegram, the yellow Western Union telegram,” he says, trying to fight back emotion.
He has his brother’s name, Darrell, from a rubbing from the Vietnam Wall. Darryl was killed in Vietnam.
To manage the trauma, even years later, David discovered K9s for Warriors, a nonprofit, which trains service dogs and matches them with warriors coping with PTSD. David’s service dog carries the name of John Loosen, a fellow Vietnam veteran
K9s for Warriors had only accepted post 9-11 veterans but began taking Vietnam veterans last year when the program expanded.
David is the first Vietnam vet to graduate the program.
He says Loose has changed everything for him. Loose never leaves his side, even lying by his feet when he brushes his teeth. At night Loose seems to be able to sense when David is going into a nightmare. David says Loose will get up, put his face on the mattress and let out a little growl to wake up David.
Loose also carries out a command called “brace.” David, a Purple Heart recipient, has a metal rod going down his leg. Getting up off the floor can be almost impossible. But with David’s commands Loose stands firm and still and David can pull up on Loose.
David says he’s grateful for K9s for Warriors because they keep checking back on him. And, he says, Loose “is like my guardian angel.”