CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The student veteran’s lounge at Texas A & M – Corpus Christi is literally going to the dogs, and there’s a good reason for that.
A new therapy dog program in it’s initial stage provides a new alternative way to assist veterans as they transition to student life.
They help them deal with the stresses of classwork and the mental scars of combat too.
“It’s a safe place (for veterans) to just kinda be themselves,” said Barrett Flaminio, TAMU-CC communications director and also a combat veteran.
“It’s complete unconditional love in a no judgment zone,” said Nellena McCabe, owner of the non-profit Go Team Therapy Dogs.
But all this puppy love almost didn’t happen at all.
McCabe really wasn’t ready for a dog when her family went out to adopt their new pup Lexxa.
“She (Lexxa) turned out to be the biggest gift I never knew I needed,” said McCabe.
That gift of Lexxa helped her start the Go Team.
“To me, I love being able to reach out and help others no questions asked … no expectations in return,” said McCabe.
The team has already been providing comfort to anyone around the area in distress or under stress like doctors, nurses, military troops. Now, the team of Lexxa, Bacon and Tucker visit student warriors at TAMU-CC twice a week, and the veterans can’t get enough of them.
“Of course, I wanna take ’em all home, but I think there’s laws against that,” joked Flaminio.
The new dog therapy program is part of embedded support care program to student veterans at TAMU-CC. It’s a program created by mental health expert and psychologist Dr. Sarah Skelton, herself a combat veteran.
“I walk in and I just see them already sitting in the student veteran’s laps or while they’re studying, they’ll take a break from their studying to go pet the therapy animal and I just can see the tension melt off of them, said Skelton.