On Nov. 11, Veteran's Day, the A&E network will debut "Dogs of War," a new docu-series about war veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the service dogs that help them adjust back into life after combat.
The show is based on married couple Jim and Lindsey Stanek and their nonprofit organization Paws and Stripes. The organization provides service dogs to wounded military veterans, and each episode will chronicle the journey of one or two PTSD veterans as they are paired with man's best friend.
The Staneks recently sat down for a Q & A:
Christian Post: Jim, you seem very passionate and dedicated to Paws and Stripes, where does your motivation to help others come from?
Jim Stanek: I know my motivation comes from the fact that I've served in 3 tours [in Iraq]. You know we're losing too many veterans currently to suicide rates here in the United States and if we can just try to help out in any way that we can, that's what we want to do. Help them live the life that they deserve.
CP: Jim, when did you learn you had PTSD?
Lindsey Stanek: Early 2009.
CP: Lindsey, did Jim's diagnosis change your perspective on war?
LS: It didn't at first because frankly, I didn't know that much about [PTSD]. So I wasn't really sure … I didn't really have enough information for it to change my perspective. It was when I started seeing it that's when I kind of [said] 'ok I need to kind of figure this out because I don't really know what's happening to him now.'
CP: Do you think the government is doing enough to assist war veterans upon their return home?
JS: I will say this, I believe that personally the [U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs] healthcare system is trying to do the best that they can with what they have and as far as the government is concerned, I support our country and I like to say that I believe in the red, white and blue.
LS: Well (in our situation) I think that we probably would've benefited from better accessibility to assistance programs to help Jim when he was coming out. It's really hard ... we didn't know where to go, who to talk to or how to do anything and we kind of got shuffled around. It's a big machine you know and there's so many veterans that need help. I think that there's a lot of good people in the VA and in the government that are trying to do the right thing, but accessibility has certainly been a problem. There's small groups like ours that are trying to fill in gaps, so [we need] better assistance for those programs so that [government workers] can get out and help more people.
CP: Jim, when were you paired with a service dog?
JS: Lindsey is my rockstar, who I'm very lucky to have in my life because I don't know where I'd be today. [She] adopted Sarge my dog out of South Carolina. And she was a pup when we got her and she was just my dog and that bond was built right off the bat. We got along and Lindsay just knew from within her heart ... she just knew Sarge was my dog.
CP: Would you have been able to recover without a service dog?
JS: I hate to think about what it would've been like without her. And now I'm at a point where I lean on the fact that I had Sarge and of course, with the support structure that I had from Lindsay and friends and family, it was very successful.
CP: In your opinion do these service dogs have the ability to save lives?
JS: I believe that the service dog has the potential to save a disabled veteran's life. When you're serving in combat, you deal with a lot of loss and now when you come home we're dealing with losing a lot veterans to suicide (the suicide rate is just astronomical in this country right now for our disabled veteran population). I say just throw a service dog into the mix and lets see how things turn out and so far its been a success.
CP: While watching the trailer, I saw a really strong bond between the vets and the dogs. Would you say there's some kind of spiritual connection between them?
JS: Yes, I do believe that there is. I think it's a bond that can't be broken. When you serve in the military and the armed forces, the camaraderie that you have with the men and women that you serve with is a bond that can't be broken. I believe that when you're working with a dog to become your service dog, that bond does get there and even on an emotional spiritual level as well.
CP: Do you have any regrets about serving this country?
JS: No. The thing that a lot of people don't know is that I was actually an iron worker and a volunteer firefighter in New York. I was there when the Twin Towers were hit. I spent some time down there in the recovery effort and then the cleanup effort. Shortly afterwards, I felt like there was a calling, and this calling was to go and serve this great country of ours and the people that live here. I have no regrets. I have a tattoo on my arm that says 'no regrets' I think we all are in this world and placed in here for a purpose and I believe that we were doing what we were supposed to be doing.
"Dogs of War" is produced by Custom Productions, Inc. and Redtail Media, LLC for A&E Network.
The show premieres on A&E on Nov. 11, 2014 at 10PM ET/PT
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON PAWS AND STRIPES CLICK HERE