DAWSONVILLE, Ga. - The Fourth of July brings celebration, flags, and fireworks but for some veterans traumatic memories and stress.
The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates as much as twenty percent of veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. As much as thirty percent of Vietnam veterans deal with the disorder.
Yet, one woman in Dawsonville is doing what she can to help.
Breeder Bev Beres is raising puppies to provide a little extra support for those who've served.
"It's so overwhelming," Beres said. "And I don't think we all realize the impact of serving in the military and coming home and dealing with the consequences of what they have seen with PTSD and depression."
Beres is breeding her first litter of German Shepherds, three of which she plans to donate to veterans as service or comfort companions.
"The dog will be there to unconditionally love him," Beres said, adding the breed is particularly intelligent and intuitive. "The dog will not judge him or her."
The call to help heal comes after a close friend lost her son to suicide. July 10 marks two years since Aaron Alexander Gorklo passed away. A member of the Army National Guard, Gorklo had a special admiration for veterans.
"He loved veterans and just being able to get to talk to them and hang out with them and hear their stories," Gorklo's mom Wendy Galloway told 11Alive. "He loved animals, too."
To honor his memory, Beres is donating a few dogs from each litter to a veteran in need, with the aim to help families heal plus spread awareness around suicide and PTSD.
"We were originally just donating one puppy per litter," Beres said, adding they now plan to donate three of the current litter. "We have to do what we can."
Beres, working alongside Sit Means Sit, plans to train each dog to their veteran's needs.
"[One] veteran suffers from severe PTSD, severe paranoia...so we're going to be training this dog to learn the triggers," Beres said. "The dog will be used to pull the veteran back."
"Because of Aaron we are going to have so many other veterans that are going to be helped," Beres said, adding a nonprofit may be in the future to help further the mission.
For more information or to nominate a veteran for a service dog, visit www.BeresHaus.com.
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