PENROSE — Retired CSM Gerry Rimpley spent 26 years serving in the US Army.

“I served stateside, Alaska and Germany. I did three combat tours in Somalia, Kosovo and Iraq,” Rimpley said.

Looking back, she said it was an amazing experience.

“The thing I liked most about being in the service is the different soldiers and the camaraderie of all of them from the youngest privates to the high-ranking officers,” Rimpley said.

But, once she got out, all her combat experience took its toll.

“I wasn’t able to get out very much, speak with people, be around people.”

She said this is something many veterans who have gone through combat still experience.

“There is still that stigma of… PTSD doesn’t exist, it’s all in your mind. I’m here to tell you it’s alive and it sometimes plays the devil on your shoulder.”

Then, Katy, her service dog, came into her life.

“I am now more comfortable and, because of her, I have since successfully pursued and was elected to be the [commander of the] Department of Colorado VFW.”

She said she can now take her own experiences and help other veterans who are transitioning from the military.

“This simple Army individual retired and was successful enough to be elected as the commander of the VFW… it shows them also you can get that responsibility back that you remember, that you knew and be successful.”

And now, she said she can show them the mental trauma is okay and she herself wouldn’t have made it through without her canine companion.

“I wouldn’t be able to do this if I didn’t have her,” Rimpley said. “You can still serve and you can still help veterans as we will help you find whatever tools necessary to enable you to get your life back that you knew when you first joined the military.”