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Wednesday, January 27, 2010 - New best friend helping vet rebuild life after war

A very cool Story…


Salvation padded into Isaiah Schaffer's life on four paws.

Fifteen months ago, the 25-year-old Spotsylvania County man was essentially a shut-in.

Having returned from three tours in Iraq with severe post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury, he was prone to flashbacks and nightmares. He rarely left his one-bedroom apartment

"I would drop money out the window to have my friends go get me food," he said. "I would get nervous in different situations--a crying baby, lines, someone approaching me from behind, crowds. I couldn't watch behind me. If there was a loud noise, I'd fall to the floor.

"I was in the apartment for a very, very long time. I thought, 'I've got to do something.'"

Schaffer's mother had seen a Katie Couric story about Puppies Behind Bars, a nonprofit organization that uses prison inmates to train service dogs. In 2006, the organization started Dog Tags to train dogs for wounded warriors, especially those with PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

"I sent in an application and wrote a letter. I basically said, 'This is how I was before the war. This is how I am now.'"

His mother wrote a similar letter.

Schaffer heard about a week later that he'd been chosen from among applicants all over the country to receive a dog.

Three months later, the organization flew him and his mother to Florida to begin a two-week training process. The trip, the dog and the training were all free.

He was paired with a chocolate English Labrador named Meghan, trained by a New York prison inmate named Annette… - New best friend helping vet rebuild life after war

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