Military veterans and dogs help each other in training program

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ROCKFORD, IL (WREX/CNN) – Emotions. They get the best of people and their four-legged friends.

The Circle of Change program gives military veterans an outlet from symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The vets can spend their free time training dogs.

It’s good for both.

"Veterans come to our classes and experience adjunct therapy through dog training classes," said Erin Rabon with Circle of Change.

The group said its participating dogs are chosen by its trainers, with many of the dogs exhibiting the same symptoms as veterans: anxiety issues, traumatic brain injury and PTSD.  

As they work together, they can improve each other's lives.

"I think they see the progression and the improvement in the dog, and it really gives them hope, for themselves," Rabon said.

One of the veterans, Tom Peacock, said his dog Belle means the world to him.

"We were going through some really hard times, and she's really helped out,” he said. “We are doing so much better now and she's really helped a lot with that."

For veterans like Peacock, the program also allowed him to connect with other veterans. Ones who understand what he's going through.

"It helps a lot because then you're not alone and you know there are other people in the same situation you're in."

Circle of Change has been helping veterans in northern Illinois for over 10 years. It’s a doggone good program.

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