Vietnam Vet with PTSD says he knows what will make him feel better

Vietnam War veteran John Dixon has been waiting for a service dog for two years. He describes his ongoing battle with debilitating invisible injuries.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - "I need a friend...It's like being on home detention."

John Dixon is haunted by what he saw in Vietnam, including the dismembered body of an elderly Vietnamese woman.

"She was looking at me with her eyes open. How do I deal with this? I carry it all the f--- time," he said. Dixon was in the Army. He left Vietnam in 1968. Vietnam never left him.

He lives near a wooded trail. But he doesn't enjoy walking alone because of his debilitating and isolating illness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Dixon put his head in his hands. "I cry almost every day just because of what I have to deal with."

Dixon is convinced a service dog would help him. But right now, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not qualify veterans with PTSD for a matching service dog.

"It's all we need. It's just all we need," Dixon repeated. 

A service dog may help fight a stark statistic: a veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes.

RELATED: Where to get help for PTSD

"I don't feel alive. I feel dead. My soul's dead. I can't communicate. I can't love," Dixon told Andrea McCarren of WUSA9's Special Assignment Unit. "Nobody's around me, ya' know?"

For the WUSA9 story, Dixon eagerly walked the wooded trail with Nigel, the service dog-in-training being fostered by McCarren.

Currently, the VA only matches and covers service dog expenses for veterans with visible, mobility issues.

So Dixon has been kept waiting for a possible match for his needs. It's been two years.  

"The dog [would be] so comforting because he's loving his owner unconditionally. He's giving them something what they lacked for years and years," said Dixon. 

Help John Dixon get a service dog

In Congress the PAWS Act would provide a life-changing service dog for free to a wounded warrior like Dixon starting 2018. 

If you’re moved by this story and want to transform your emotions into action, you can contact your members of Congress and ask them to support the PAWS Act. It’s HR 2327 on the House side and S 1014 on the Senate side. 

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RELATED: Inside PTSD: We followed a vet through his "triggers

The WUSA9 Special Assignment Unit recently talked with combat veteran, Chris Chavez, who lives with severe post traumatic stress. Chavez demonstrated how his “triggers” affect him on a daily basis. Chavez got himself a service dog. The dog, Avery, has enabled him to leave the house.  

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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