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Corey Houghtaling Atticus can sense when an anxiety attack threatens to seize his master, U.S. Marine veteran Corey Houghtaling.

Attuned to early warning signs, the black Labrador retriever intervenes by licking Corey’s hand.

“Before I had Atticus,” Corey told The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, “I used to have three to five anxiety attacks a week” of his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.

“Now, with the dog, I have maybe one,” he said. Atticus’ “job in life is to help me out.”

And that’s the job of the DAV Charitable Service Trust too, helping veterans like Corey, who developed PTSD after two combat tours in Afghanistan.

The Trust partners with innovative programs like Canines for Combat Veterans (CCV), which paired Corey with Atticus. This animal-assisted program is an offshoot of the National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS).

CCV trains dogs to help veterans with emotional and physical disabilities to pursue productive, independent futures. The average participant is 25 and served in Afghanistan or Iraq.

In CCV, the Trust sponsored two service-dog pairs, including Corey and Atticus. Through this program, it takes $25,000 and up to 24 months to raise the dog, pairs it with a veteran, and train the two to work together. The program relies on fundraising to cover all costs.

CCV is exactly the type of opportunity the Trust looks for in program partners. It seeks out great programs that do great things for veterans, but need a boost from people who want to make a great difference.

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