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Remembrance Day ceremony honours dogs that help veterans with PTSD

11/10/2014 06:52 EST | Updated 01/10/2015 05:59 EST
Service dogs who help veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder​ (PTSD) are being recognized alongside their owners this Remembrance Day.

A blue heeler named Gambler was the first service dog to be allowed on a military base with an active military member. 

He was teamed up with Master Cpl. Bill Nachuk five years ago after he was diagnosed with PTSD following several tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

"It wasn't until after I had four trips to the emergency room within a six-month period because I just didn't want to live with the pain, and everything that PTSD has to bear, is when I realized I needed to get some sort of help," said Nachuk. 

There are now 119 dogs who are trained and certified to work with soldiers all over the country with a wide range of disabilities. They are now included in many Remembrance Day ceremonies, like a sunrise flag ceremony held Monday at the Field of Crosses in Calgary.

"We need to bring these programs and we need to bring the public together to unify to help our veterans," said George Leonard, director of the Courageous Companions program.

Nachuk hopes to bring more awareness to PTSD and the benefits of service dogs in an effort to erase the stigma that can come with mental illness.

Gambler and Nachuk were recently denied entry to a Calgary restaurant because staff didn't recognize the animal as a working dog.

"Because of the lack of education because people do not see a disability," said Nachuk. 

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