DUBLIN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The V.A. Hospital in Dublin has a unique program aimed to help soldiers returning from duty.
The soldiers are training dogs to search out bombs. But the program is teaching soldiers valuable life skills, after suffering the devastating affects of war.
The sights and sounds of training in the fenced in yard at the hospital, might be familiar.
Trainers commanding dogs to ‘sit, stay down, and leave it’ are heard constantly like a steady drum beat. But what’s happening at the V.A. Hospital, is nothing less than extraordinary.
“Some of these men and women haven’t had responsibility for years. We’ve got to establish something they have to care for, something they have to be responsible for,” Lester Black explained.
Black is working with soldiers who have returned from war, and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He’s instilling care, a hard work ethic, and responsibility in the minds of the soldiers through dog training.
“They’re either just not working, they have drug addictions, they have alcohol addictions, mental health situations from various combat situations they’ve served in,” Black said.
The skills Black is equipping the men and women with, are also helping put these wounded veterans back to work. Every one of the soldiers going through the six month training, is currently unemployed and homeless.
Veteran Fred Carter knows he is doing more than train a dog to sniff out bombs and listen to commands; Carter is realizing he can work hard, and get back into society through working with dogs.
“As I train the dog, I learn a lot about my feelings… how to control myself as far as patience, being humble, being very consistent,” Carter explains. “That’s what the dog needs, and that’s basically what I need in my life.”
The Detection Canine Development Program at the Carl Vinson V.A. Medical Center is a partnership through Auburn University. Each dog enters the program when it is 15 weeks old, and stays with the veteran for six months before it will go on to active duty operations.
Black says, everything being done through the training, is focused on one thing;
“Our primary goal here is to help our veterans. We use the dog as a tool to do that. Our veterans are what our primary concern is.”