Lowe’s Home Improvement in Spartanburg, South Carolina has two new employees: one with two legs and one with four legs. Thanks to a program by Service Dogs for Veterans, an Upstate veteran suffering from PTSD now has the chance for a normal life.
Tony Swett served for a year in Bosnia and a year in Afghanistan. When he returned home his life was restricted by the devastating symptoms of PTSD. One of those symptoms is isolation.
In an interview with Fox Carolina News, Tony describes his life during his service to his country and how things have changed since Cooper came into his life
“There are certain things in life a person’s not supposed to see. I was afraid to go into places, fireworks, stuff like that. I’m not ashamed to say I have PTSD. With Cooper right here beside me, I feel safe.”
Cooper started out as a family pet. In the beginning, the two didn’t even get along because Tony didn’t realize Cooper was around to help him. Now Cooper helps Tony perform his job, which he says he wouldn’t have applied for if Cooper couldn’t work with him. Tony had heard about another dog in Texas being hired by Lowe’s in December 2016, and he and his wife decided to pursue the job at the Blackstock Road location.
Many veterans struggle with simple things like getting out of the house. Customers at the Spartanburg Lowe’s really love it when they see Tony and Cooper working together. It took training to get Cooper certified as a service dog. He and Tony are a team, both at work and off the clock. Tony refers to Cooper as his “battle buddy” and Cooper wears his service dog vest while on the job.
Hiring combat veterans and their service dogs is a ground-breaking project for the Lowe’s Home Improvement chain. The Spartanburg community is proud to be a part of the project and Tony now sees a bright future ahead of him, thanks to Cooper. He calls his place of employment “a guy’s Chucky Cheese.”
Part of his future plans is to promote service dogs being allowed to work with the veterans they’re trained to help.
A video of Tony and Cooper at work can be found here.