No Longer Behind Enemy Lines Josh Walker Battles PTSD with Service Dog Baxter

Veteran Josh Walker of 101st Airborne questioned PTSD existence for six years before seeking treatment

Article by Ken Budd, courtesy of HumanAnimalBond.org

Before his dog Baxter changed his life, Josh Walker was suffering from night terrors. In 2005, Walker was deployed to Iraq as a cavalry scout in the 101st Airborne, enduring ambushes and firefights. The nightmares started when he returned home, along with hallucinations, fits of anger, and fear. He’d slam on the brakes when he was driving, thinking a roadside object was an IED. It took him six years to accept that he was suffering from PTSD, despite the concerns of his fiancé and family. But denial, he says, is common for many combat veterans.“If somebody I respect could accept it, maybe there was some truth to this PTSD thing.”

“If you’re suffering from PTSD, it means you weren’t strong enough.”

“You’re trained that if something is wrong with you—physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally—then you’re worthless to the unit,” says Walker, 34. “So if you’re suffering from PTSD, your mentality is that you can’t admit it because it means you weren’t strong enough.”The well-meaning reactions of people at home can also be problematic. “People buy you drinks and pat you on the back and thank you for your service,” he says. “So for you to say, ‘I’m actually struggling really bad, I’m not sleeping, I’ve got anger issues, stress, depression’—it feels like it would devalue your contribution and sacrifice.”

His attitude finally changed when he read a blog by a Special Forces combat veteran about his service dog and his experiences with PTSD. “I thought, ‘If somebody I respect could accept it, maybe there was some truth to this PTSD thing.’” He eventually entered a pilot program at West Virginia University—where he was taking classes—for PTSD service dog training. That’s how he met Baxter, the Golden Retriever who changed his life.

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Photos of the Week – The White House, 30 Apr 2018

THE WHITE HOUSE

Photos of the Week
Monday, April 30, 2018

President Donald J. Trump and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari shake hands during their joint press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, Monday, April 30, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

President Donald J. Trump and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari participate in a joint press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, Monday, April 30, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

President Donald J. Trump poses with the U.S. Military Academy Football Team, winners of the Commander-in- Chief’s Trophy, in the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, May 1, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The Army Black Knights defeated Navy 14-13 in December 2017, to claim the trophy for the first time since 1996. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

President Donald J. Trump, standing with Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, right, is given a football jersey during the presentation of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy to the U.S. Military Academy Football Team in the Rose Garden at the White House, Tuesday, May 1, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The Army Black Knights defeated Navy 14-13 in December 2017, to claim the trophy for the first time since 1996. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

President Donald J. Trump shakes the hand of Southwest Airlines pilot Tammie Jo Shults, as he welcomes the crew members and passengers of Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, to the Oval Office at the White House, Tuesday, May 1, 2018, in Washington, D.C.  The Southwest Airlines flight crew have been heralded for their successful landing of their aircraft following a catastrophic engine failure on April 17, 2018, and the passengers for coming to the aid of critically injured passenger Jennifer Riordan, who later died from her injuries. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, delivers remarks during the swearing in ceremony of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the U.S. State Department, Wednesday, May 2, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

President Donald J. Trump poses for photos with 2018 National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning of the Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane, WA., during a reception in the East Room at the White House, Wednesday, May 2, 2018, in Washington, D.C., honoring the 2018 National Teacher of the Year and finalists. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
Thursday, May 3, 2018 

President Donald J. Trump walks from the Oval Office to deliver his remarks at a National Day of Prayer Event in the Rose Garden at the White House, Thursday, May 3, 2018, in Washington, D.C.  (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and invited religious leaders, displays his signature on an Executive Order creating the Establishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative, during the National Day of Prayer Event in the Rose Garden at the White House, Thursday, May 3, 2018, in Washington, D.C.  (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)
Friday, May 4, 2018

President Donald J. Trump greets 104-year-old  Marion Conrad of Virginia Beach, VA,  and members of her family outside the South Portico entrance at the White House, Friday May 4, 2018, prior to boarding Marine One en route to Joint Base Andrews, in Maryland.