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Drew and Brittany Brees Sponsor Service Dog for Air Force Veteran with PTSD

Drew Brees is no stranger to the fourth quarter game-winning drive, but he’s never made a completion like this before.

When the New Orleans Saints QB heard about K9s for Warriors at coach Sean Payton’s Black and Gold Gala, he and his wife Brittany started running with it. They found a service dog to sponsor and named him “Brees.” The German shepherd mix was paired with U.S. Air Force veteran Tech. Sgt. April Sandlin, who spent 21 days at Camp K9, training with Brees and forming a bond.

Post-traumatic stress disorder affects about 7.8 percent of Americans, many of them service members who have lived through incredibly threatening situations. PTSD is an obstacle in Sandlin’s life, but one she’s hoping to overcome with the help of Brees.

“I can feel a difference in my life,” Sandlin said. “I am very thankful for K9s For Warriors and that Drew Brees was so kind to sponsor my dog. Many things in combat cannot be unseen or unheard. I can’t forget those things, but my dog helps me focus on something different — our bond.”

Tech. Sgt. April Sandlin with Brees.

Tech. Sgt. April Sandlin with Brees.

Shari Duval opened K9s For Warriors in 2011 to help people like Sandlin recover from emotional shock. Duval’s son came home from Iraq with PTSD, prompting her to create the nonprofit, which has since helped hundreds of veterans through their darkest times.

“Our program has been so successful, with documented recovery from the debilitating horrors of war,” Duval said. “The need to help these veterans is critical and overwhelming. We must do more. Our plans are to expand our current program to continue serving our nation’s greatest asset, military men and women. Sponsors like Drew Brees enable us to continue serving our veterans in need.”

K9s For Warriors is based in Florida but reaches out to help active duty troops or veterans from every branch of the military, anywhere in the country.

Service dogs can help veterans who struggle with physical or mental disabilities, but training them can be a difficult task. One former Marine K9 handler is using his expertise to help place service dogs with the veterans who need them. Follow this link to read more about this handler-turned-rescuer who’s putting his military training to good use.

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and world traveler with a background in journalism, graphic design, and French pastry. He likes to learn new things whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, folk music and coffee.