By Norman Seawright III

BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) – The men and women who serve our country often endure psychological trauma that accompanies the physical scars. That’s where the K9s for Warriors project comes in — they rescue dogs, and they end up rescuing our service men and women.

Meet Nelson and his best friend.

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“He’s a godsend. He really is. He’s better than the meds that I’m on. I take way too many as it is,” said Derek Dosedel, a retired U.S. Army staff sergeant.

Dosedel served five combat tours between Iraq and Afghanistan and worked in counterintelligence, but combat injuries forced him to retire.

“Multiple times getting blown up, being near explosions,” Dosedel said.

However, it’s not the physical injury that causes him the most difficulty.

“My biggest things: PTSD, TBI, short-term memory loss, concentration ability, anxiety, depression,” Dosedel said.

This is where service dogs shine. Nelson can sense Dosedel’s anxiety and react.

“Constantly puts a smile on my face every day,” Dosedel said.

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“The first day that Derek was assigned with Nelson, Derek actually laid down and cried. It wasn’t out of sorrow. It was out of total joy… his life opening up to a new chapter of things he couldn’t do before,” said Laddie Dosedel, Derek’s father.

“He enables me to get out and to feel like my old self again, even if just a little bit,” Dosedel said. “In May, I completed my degree. Got dean’s list.”

Even though Dosedel lives with the wounds from his service, Nelson helped ease this warrior back into civilian life.

“I’ve lost a total of 33 friends… a great deal of them in combat, but also quite a few of them to suicide,” Dosedel said. “If they would have had a service dog, they might still be here… saved my life.”

The relationship between man and dog really highlights the fact that well-being goes beyond the physical. It’s mental, it’s emotional, it’s all that put together. That’s what K9s for Warriors is all about.

For more from Dosedel, watch the extended interview below.

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Norman Seawright III