Erick Scott is a father, husband, and veteran. And like many brave veterans, Erick struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Erick knew he needed help, and so he got a service dog named Gumbo.
Erick Scott might look like any other man with tattoos swirling up his arms, but his tell a different story. The tattoo on his right forearm — a skull and empty combat boots — is a memorial of his time in Iraq. He also has a soldier’s cross to remember fallen comrades.
After a staggering total of 16 years in the army and national guard, Erick Scott finally went home for good, but the battle wasn’t over.
Erick’s father, the person he respected most, told him something that would stick with Erick for years down the road.
“Son, you’ve got eleven guys, he said make sure you bring them all back,” Erick said in his interview. “That’s the last thing he [Erick’s father] told me, and they didn’t all come back.”
After returning to the United States, Erick began dealing with survivor’s guilt over the loss of his friends and comrades in the military, a tough but common feeling for veterans.
Nightmares also began to plague Erick’s life, haunting his nights with memories of Iraq and the war.
“I woke up numerous times, hitting my wife for her just laying there or just in a cold sweat,” Erick said about his night terrors. The nightmares would get so bad that Erick would cold-sweat through his sheets during the night.
Finally, Erick sought help from doctors, but their news was unwelcome – he was diagnosed with PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.
After refusing to take medication and with his PTSD only getting worse, Erick was feeling trapped without any other options, until he heard about K9s For Warriors.
K9s For Warriors is an East Coast-based charity that helps veterans get the service dogs they need. Each dog is custom trained for every warrior, whether they are fighting PTSD, have suffered a physical or mental injury out on the field, or are survivors of any sexual trauma resulting from military service.
Erick got paired with a Gumbo, a gentle black lab who can sense Erick’s distress even before the onset of an episode to give him the assurance he needs.
Even during his interview with USA Today, Gumbo is still watching out for Erick.
As Erick begins talking about his first diagnosis with PTSD, Gumbo can sense his agitation and quickly inserts himself. You can watch as Erick visibly relaxes while petting Gumbo.
Dogs can be so much more than man’s best friend – especially when it comes to Erick and Gumbo. If you’re a veteran struggling with PTSD or if you have a loved one who needs help, be sure to check out the K9s For Warriors application here.
Today, Gumbo is still by Erick’s side.
Gumbo still helps Erick, and the two often travel together. Erick posts lots of photos of his and Gumbo’s adventures on Facebook, including a trip to Erick’s alma mater, Louisana State University.
Gumbo and Erick are a great pair, and it’s amazing to watch how Gumbo helps Erick.
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