Army War Vet Struggled With PTSD, Until He Met Two Animals That Changed His Life

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Stephen Simmons is an Army war veteran who first joined in 1986. Unfortunately, like many other vets, he suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder after he returned from Iraq in 2008

His PTSD made it very challenging for him to adapt to civilian life. Everyday tasks that were simple for most people were a struggle for him.

Stephen Simmons

Stephen Simmons

Eventually, he wound up adopting a dog named Puppi, and the two of them began traveling together. Simmons soon realized that PTSD is not just in people’s minds, and that there are certain things you can do to positively impact how your body responds to stress and anxiety.

Stephen Simmons

Stephen Simmons

Traveling became one of those things. Simmons and Puppi lived out of his jeep in the mountains of Southern Oregon while they explored the wilderness together. His newfound love for adventure has helped him restore his natural sense of self.

Stephen Simmons

Stephen Simmons

One day soon after, he and Simmons were sitting outside when a homeless girl with a bunch of kittens came up to him. She said she was trying to give away her kittens. She then placed eight-week-old Burma in his arms, and in that moment, he knew he had to adopt this kitten. So he did!

Stephen Simmons

Stephen Simmons

Burma joined Simmons and Puppi on their travels and the three of them have explored all kinds of places and climbed multiple mountains. Burma was born in a tent, so he was already used to being outdoors. He adapted to his new surroundings very well.

Stephen Simmons

Stephen Simmons

Simmons documents their “adventure therapy” with pictures and hopes to inspire other veterans to learn about and use adventure therapy to help rid their PTSD.

Luckily, Simmons is doing much better, and he has his two furry best friends to thank for that.

Stephen Simmons

Stephen Simmons

“Aside from providing unconditional love, and making the sights, sounds and smells of the wilderness more meaningful, Puppi and Burma are a responsibility,” Simmons told Huffington Post. “I care for them as much as or more than I care for myself. During especially difficult times, I would not have gotten up or gone out for myself, but I would do it for them. Puppi and Burma have been a blessing in every way.”

Click here to follow their adventures on Instagram.

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Growing up, Ashley always had a passion for writing. After receiving her Bachelor's in Journalism from Stony Brook University, she now uses that passion to write about the thing she loves most in this world: animals! When she isn't writing, you can find her curled up on the couch with a kindle in her hands and her Guinea Pigs on her lap.
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