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MARLTON, N.J. (CBS) – A South Jersey non-profit is helping returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans by connecting them with unusual therapy partners: Dogs. The group “Semper Fido” is training dogs to serve vets with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Sierra, an adorable black Lab, is being put through her paces, part of her training to be a working support dog for Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Ellicott.

“One thing the military teaches us very well is how to fight wars. One thing they don’t teach us is how to stop the fight,” Ellicott said.

Ellicott suffers from PTSD, which makes him hyper-vigilant and jumpy.

“This is my partner here who’s gonna watch my back,” Ellicott said of Sierra.

semper fido 2 Marlton Non Profit Supports Returning Vets With Mans Best Friend

(Vets and their dogs in action with Semper Fido. Credit: Pat Loeb)

Ellicott is one of the founders of Semper Fido in Marlton, so Sierra is one of the first to go through the training. Ellicott wants to teach her to block out personal space for him and lead him out of crowds if she senses him becoming tense. He says she’s already learned an amazing trick on her own.

“She’s woken me up from a nightmare before, with a kind of a nudge and a lick. I woke up in a cold sweat and she was there and it was really comforting,” Ellicott said.

Ellicott hopes to provide the kind of comfort to other vets through Semper Fido.

Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio 1060

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