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Battle buddies: Service dog saves veteran with PTSD

KTUL

During one of the deadliest years in the Afghanistan War, Army Med Evac pilot Terry Hill spent his time counting each minute and second. In 2010, time became his enemy as he and his crew flew into battle zones, running to rescue the injured and dying.

“Just let me go, it’s not about me, it’s not about me. That was the entire crew’s mindset,” said Hill. “There’s somebody out there on the worst day of their life, just let us go.”

Hill was deployed to Afghanistan for one year, but the experiences he had there would linger. Over time, he became restless and moody. It wasn’t until his daughter accidentally woke him up one day when he realized something wasn’t right.

"I was holding her in the air," remembered Hill. “She said, 'daddy,' I kind of came to. I’m like, what’s going on? There’s something that’s happening that’s not normal. That’s my little girl.”

“He’s our hero,” said Julie, Hill’s wife.

Hill says that’s not how he would describe himself.

“No, I’m not a hero," he said.

For a man who has devoted his life to saving others, he realized it was hit turn to ask for help.

Fortunately, there’s someone perfectly suited for the job. He has four legs, a golden coat and a smile. His name is Jonsie.

“He’s calm and collected in this, this daily struggle of the fog after war,” said Hill.

Jonsie has become a beloved family pet and a co-pilot for Hill when he’s anxious or overwhelmed.

“You look out after your dog, they look out for you. There’s a connection like that,” said Ron Miller.

Miller is with Therapetics, a charity that trains service dogs.

He said they have about 200 veterans waiting for a service dog. There are 10 people training dogs at the moment, but it’s a two-year process. Miller said the training and the dogs have infinite value, something he’s witnessed after Hill and Jonsie paired up a few months ago.

“We get together and go, that’s what it’s all about, that’s why we do this,” said Miller.

Hill is no longer on medication for his PTSD. He’s starting to become “dad” again to his two kids and a husband to his wife.

“He’s coming back, I feel like (he’s coming back) in full force to us,” said Julie Hill.

“Jonsie, he saved my life, without a shadow of a doubt, he saved my life,” said Hill.

Hill now counts moments, hugs and smiles. Time with his family has become a treasure worth fighting for, all with his best friend and battle buddy at his side.

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