This Able Veteran brings hope to veterans through four-legged friends

Army veteran Rick Gill stated he is confident would have taken his life had it not been for This Able Veteran and his service dog. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Nick Miller)

O’FALLON – “I was struggling. And then Lenny came into my life,” said Army Veteran Rick Gill.

Gill, who served in both Vietnam and Desert Storm, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He battled nightmares every night and was progressively becoming more and more lost in his trauma. Gill would ultimately reach out to an organization called This Able Veteran, based at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, for help.

“The really cool part about [This Able Veteran] is, early on, Behesha asked me what my biggest problem was. I said nightmares, it still is, and has been for the past 45 years. She replied ‘We’re going to work on that’. Lenny [Gill’s service dog] has been trained to help. He sleeps at the foot of my bed and when he feels me thrashing around at night, tossing the sheets around, and mumbling, he will intervene. He will come up and nose me in the belly or start licking me in the face. That breaks that cycle and helps me so much,” Gill explained.

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