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Kerry Bering was paired with her service dog, Bass, in February 2023. (Photo courtesy K9 For Warriors)

Fredericksburg mom, Marine veteran takes dogged approach to living with PTSD

by | Jun 7, 2024 | ALLFFP, Health & Wellness, Non-Profits

It only took one night for Kerry Bering to realize that she was being given a second chance at life after being matched with her service dog, Bass, through the nonprofit K9 for Warriors.

Bering, a Marine veteran and Fredericksburg resident was paired with Bass, an English Labrador, in February 2023 to help with her Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to her time serving in the Marines.

“He sensed that I was having a night terror, maybe from all the moving around I was doing in my sleep,” Bering said of their first night together. “He will come up and put his body weight on top of my chest and lick my face until I wake up.”

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that can develop at any age and can happen to anyone. More likely to be affected are combat veterans who, after serving their country, can have trouble adjusting to their “normal” lives once back home with their families.

K9 for Warriors is a veterans service organization committed to pairing veterans who struggle with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and/or military sexual trauma with highly-trained service dogs. The 501(c)(3) charity organization also aims to work exclusively with rescues when training service dogs and to date has rescued more than 2,000 rescue dogs from shelters.

“These veterans are able to take their fully-trained and certified service dogs anywhere in public for whatever they may need to do,” said K9 for Warriors Public Relations Manager Carly Kramer. “A lot of these veterans aren’t able to do the normal day-to-day things like go to the grocery store, school, or restaurants. So we teach them how to be a functioning member of society again.”

Before being sent home with a service dog, veterans must complete a 21-day training program at campuses in either Florida or Texas. This comprehensive training program is aimed toward giving the veterans all the tools they need to be successful with their service dog once back home. As of March 2024, K9 for Warriors has paired 1,000 veterans with fully certified service dogs, all at no cost to the veterans.

“They learn how to use, trust, and rely on their new service dog before going back home,” Kramer said. “And once they’re back home, we do keep up with them throughout the process to make sure they get any extra assistance as needed with the service dog.”

Bering found out about K9 for Warriors after looking online for support and services for veterans who struggle with PTSD.

“I watched a bunch of the videos they had on the K9 for Warriors website when I had first applied back in 2021 and just had a feeling it could help me,” Bering said.

Bass assists Bering in day-to-day functions, ranging from emotional support to mobility support and medical alerts.

“Bass has been trained to do a brace command to where I can place some of my weight on him with him staying steady so I can easily get up off the floor,” Bering said. “Bass will also place himself between me and any other people around me that may be getting too close, creating a sort of barrier for me.”

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