COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — FOX21 News and the Colorado Springs Independent are teaming up once again for this year’s Give campaign and Victory Service Dogs is one local organization who could use a little extra help.

“He’s really kind of helped me,” said Travis Nelson, a U.S. Army veteran and veteran liaison with Victory Service Dogs. “He’s given me a purpose to get out of bed everyday.”

At no cost, Victory Service Dogs provides service dogs and the necessary training to local veterans.

“When you get out of the military, a lot of soldiers and veterans have trouble with that because they don’t have that structure anymore so when you get back into civilian life, you’re kind of just tossed out to kind of like hey figure it out yourself,” said Nelson.

“A lot of our guys have a hard time just getting out of their house or apartment so a service dog really helps them to get out,” said Steve Corey, the executive director of Victory Service Dogs.

For veterans who struggle with PTSD, memory issues, depression or social anxiety, service dogs like Joey are there to provide comfort and help.

“He gives me a sense of purpose,” said Nelson. “I know I have to get up in the morning, I know i have to go let him outside, I know that we’re probably going to go for a walk outside. I know that if I have errands I have to go run,  he’ll come with me.”

“You quit focusing on yourself so much,” said Corey. “You have the dog to take care of. You have to worry about the dog and the training, It’s constant.”

Nelson says the companionship that his service dog provides is similar to that of the one he found in his nine years serving in the Army.

“You can’t do it alone,” he said.  “When you’re in the military, whether it be Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard even, you had buddies by your side.”

“We have over 200,000 veterans in our area and it’s a huge need and the dogs make a big difference and it’s very doable to make that happen,” said Corey.

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