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Service dogs like Pepper help veterans with PTSD

A new documentary spotlights the unique journey of healing alongside a PTSD Service Dog.

ST. LOUIS — Some of the best therapists have four legs.

No one knows that better than retired Marine Shannon Idol.

If you see Shannon, chances are you will see Pepper, his service dog.

"Her main job to put it simply is to keep me in the moment, "he explains. "She's also trained to wake me up out of nightmares."

Pepper makes sure Shannon is never alone with his demons.

"We're pretty much inseparable," he says.

Shannon is among the 20 to 30 percent of veterans suffering from anxiety and post-traumatic stress syndrome. And many suffer in silence.

RELATED: President Biden signs PAWS Act, allowing VA to fund the training of service dogs for veterans

"We believe that we're supposed to be invincible. We're like a big block of granite," he tells 5 on Your Side.

Shannon is one of three veterans featured in a new documentary called "Even Heroes Need Heroes".  

"I maybe sleep maybe two to three hours a night," shares one of the veterans featured.

Another added, "I've tried to commit suicide, tried to slit my wrists, tried to overdose."

The makers of the documentary, Purina Dog Chow and On your Six Supports Dogs call it a unique journey of healing and hope alongside a PTSD Service Dog.   

Now working for the FOCUS Marines Foundation here in St. Louis, Shannon helps other veterans with PTSD. He's got their backs, while Pepper has his.

"She's not going to leave me," says Shannon. "I know that I can depend on her. I trust her."

We sleep better at night because of the men and women who served. And in some cases, they're sleeping better because of support dogs like Pepper.

"She's living proof that it works," he said in the documentary.

To see the documentary: dogchow.com/service

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