Created: 07/06/2014 10:56 PM
By: Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4
A veteran with PTSD in Albuquerque says he literally cannot function without his service dog.
The Fourth of July weekend was a true test. He was without his "sidekick" DJ for a whole 24 hours, but thanks to the community stepping up the two are reunited.
Andrew Bear is one of hundreds of thousands of veterans with PTSD.
"I think a lot of guys come home and don't know how to deal with the day to day," Bear said. "Life when you come back from combat. It's hard. It's hard to deal with that, that change."
He went through months of inpatient treatment, where doctors learned he also had a traumatic brain injury and epilepsy, but his dog DJ was the only thing that made him feel like he could make it through the day.
"He brings you down," Bear said. "Back down to a calm level. He's your buddy. He's your battle buddy, that's what we call it. He's your battle buddy."
Every Fourth of July, fireworks bring Bear back to a place he doesn’t want to go, and he says his service dog DJ never liked them either. Friday, Bear opened the garage door just for a moment, and when a firework went off, DJ ran off.
Bear says he couldn’t look at DJ’s leash or jacket without crying, and he couldn’t leave the house without panicking. Beat didn't sleep. He relies on DJ to alert him when his anxiety is getting too high.
After being injured by a rocket in combat, Andrew's PTSD can be crippling. He was torturing himself, worrying about life without DJ.
Andrew called KOB Eyewitness News 4 needing help. The moment our report aired Saturday night, calls started coming in.
Now, DJ is home and back in Bear's arms.