When Jim Stanek returned from his deployment with the 1st Infantry Division of the Army with a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, he saw first-hand in therapy the impact service dogs can have on veterans.
But when he and his wife, Lindsey, tried to get him a service dog, they faced long waiting lists and price tags of up to $60,000.
“We decided to take it upon ourselves to try and address the issue head on,” Lindsey Stanek told FOX411. So they founded Paws and Stripes, an organization that trains rescue dogs and veterans to work together so the shelter animals can be service dogs for their veteran owners. The program is funded by donations and is free for the veterans.
Now, their efforts are being brought into the spotlight as part of a new docuseries on A&E titled “Dogs of War.” The show premieres on Veterans Day.
“The show is absolutely going to be a pretty amazing process,” Jim Stanek said.
The veterans are paired with dogs and the two go through an extensive nine-to-12-month training program so they can learn how to best help each other.
“Every episode we focus on one veteran going through the program,” he explained. “I have the honor of mentoring our veterans as they go through the process.”
They’ve had a lot of success since they first launched their organization, Lindsey Stane added.
“We have graduated over 50 service dogs, we have rescued more than 60 and we’ve provided mental health [help] to about 85 veterans,” she said.
Jim Stanek admitted he was nervous to film a series for TV, but he said the show will help raise awareness about PTSD and the other struggles veterans face — so it’s all worth it.
“You go from going in the Army to being a disabled veteran … to realizing you’re going to be on national television,” he said. “It can be overwhelming, but then I remember what we are doing. Service dogs are not a cure, but they are a really amazing tool to help guide the veterans.”
Plus, compared to the other challenges he’s faced, being on TV isn’t a big deal, he said.
“I’m not getting shot at. I’m not getting blown up anymore. This stuff, really, we can handle this.”
Jim Stanek gave credit to A&E for developing a series about the struggles veterans face, especially since it’s not easy to watch what they go through.
“A&E has really stepped up to the plate and was really willing to tackle the problem our veterans face — and especially to put it on TV. The show is going to be an emotional roller-coaster,” he predicted. “[The show is] just a glimpse of what it’s like when you’re a veteran living with it.”
Lindsey Stanek added that she hopes the series will be appreciated by family members of vets who may feel like no one fully understands what they go through. She said the show will show viewers what life is like for a veteran struggling with PTSD and other injuries.
“I think it will be a small triumph for [the families],” she said.
“Dogs of War” premieres Tuesday, Nov. 11 on A&E.
Thanks for checking this out…
Share and help spread the word !