Once a week, you’ll find Gina Domermuth and Amy Zappia training their soon-to-be service dogs, Ollie and Mindy.
The two are former servicemembers who suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), a psychological condition that can develop in some people who experience shocking or tragic events.
At times, they’ve struggled, but they found a way to battle it, thanks to Sonya Ward and Ibi Semper Training.
“I’m very grateful for her,” Domermuth says. “It’s been a long road for my PTSD. I’ve had it for about 10 years. Last year, I had a bad flair up, but now, I’m able to move forward in life.”
What You Need To Know
- Millions of American servicemembers suffer from PTSD
- Ibi Semper Training helps those diagnosed with PTSD
- Unlike many service animals, who are usually assigned to people, Ibi Semper will train the dog you have at home
Unlike some service animals, who are often assigned to people, Ibi Semper trains the dog you already have at home. For Zappia and Domermuth, who are about half through the eight-month course, that familiarity makes a world of difference.
“We go places, a lot of places, that I normally wouldn’t go,” Zappia says. “Normally, I have my little bubble and I stay in it, but we venture out into places I wouldn’t go on my own.”
“It’s a more homeopathic approach,” Domermuth adds. “It also deals with the loneliness sometimes that we have because we can’t reach out to people, or people are not available at the time we need them the most.”
For Ward, it’s her way of saying “thank you” to those who have sacrificed so much for Americans.
“I love what I do, and the reward is just giving back to them because they have given so much to us,” Ward said.
And the veterans and first responders who sign up for the training don’t forget it.
“I’m not alone,” Zappia says. “She’s the guardian of my past.”