Disabled veteran finds safe space with service dog, Atlas

Published: May. 30, 2022 at 6:20 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - In 2003 Kenny Bass returned home from serving in the Iraq war, wounded.

“Ultimately one of the times we were out on patrol I was hit with an IED, a roadside bomb, so I’ve got a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress,” explains Kenny Bass, Disabled Veteran and Battle Buddy Founder.

His injuries and PTSD steadily decreased his quality of life, at one point, taking over 30 pills a day.

“I was nearly one of those statistics,” continues Bass. “That statistic in the veteran community that a lot of people know, not everybody knows, but the fact that we have roughly 22 veterans a day that take their own lives. We’ve actually lost more veterans to suicide since 2001 than we’ve lost to combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, and so that’s an incredible amount of lives lost.”

In 2012, everything changed when Atlas came to be by Kenny’s side.

Bass expresses, “Getting my service dog and having that little bit of hope again gave me that little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. It was that hope to more forward, that’s something better, and I know for me it gave me my life back.”

Receiving Atlas wasn’t an easy task.

After struggling to find the right dog for him and come up with the thousands of dollars, Kenny thought no other veteran should go through this.

In 2013, the Battle Buddy Foundation was born.

“We’re a non-profit organization that provides elite service dogs to disabled veterans of all eras and we do that at no cost to the veteran,” says Bass. “We’re able to change a lot of lives. These service dogs come in and really give these veterans hope when they’re struggling and give them a path to kind of retrain their way back into the civilian world again.”

For Kenny, Atlas truly was his saving grace.

“It used to be that I’d wake up at two or three in the morning, cussing and sweating, dreaming about being back in Iraq, and I’d be messed up for a few days,” explains Bass. “I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep and the way it is now, is Atlas can sense that, and it must be early on in the dream because he’ll wake me up early enough that there’s not the same effect that there used to be.”

The pair wants struggling veterans to know, help is out there.

So far, the Battle Buddy Foundation has helped approximately 40 veterans receive a service dog, and with continued support, they’ll go on to reach hundreds across our nation.

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