For our injured military veterans, the road to recovery can be hard.
The memories from the battlefield still linger for Mitch Chapman.
But he says at least he's doing it with someone who will always be loyal to him.
"I never thought dogs could help that much," says Chapman.
Justice the dog has been with Chapman for almost a year. The Dewitt resident now spends his days working for the Army Contracting Command at the Rock Island Arsenal.
"When you're in the army, you have a battle buddy and he's like my constant battle buddy," he adds. "He's always there for me."
Back in 2008, Chapman was driving an armored truck through Afghanistan when a bomb went off. The explosion left him with traumatic brain injuries, multiple spine fractures and PTSD.
After the accident, Chapman says he had trouble doing the little things, like going to the mall and dealing with crowds of people. That's when Justice came into his life.
"He'll come and calm me down and take my attention off that and on him," Chapman explains.
The pup comes from the Des Moines based "Paws and Effect" program and is the only service dog on the Rock Island Arsenal.
"He'll pick anything up, he can open the fridge, he can do the handicap doors," Chapman adds.
Even at home, justice is there to keep Chapman at ease.
"And nightmares, he'll just wake you up," he says. "Somehow he knows. He can be in my daughter's room when I'm having a nightmare and he'll come running in licking me, waking me up. Oh ok – I'm out of it."
At first, Chapman says he didn't want to get a service dog, But now he says he can't imagine life without Justice, and he encourages other vets to be open to the idea.
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