K9s for Warriors trainer reflects on 9/11 as he helps veterans cope with struggles after war

September 11, 2001 changed America forever, and this Saturday will be the 20th anniversary of those attacks on U.S. soil.

Americans will pay tribute to the nearly 3,000 lives lost during the 9/11 attacks.

Daniel Olson made the decision to join the military because of what unfolded on that horrific day.

Olson remembered he was in college when it happened.

“You just felt a sense of pride in this is what I need to do for my country,” he said. He served both in the Army and Navy for nearly nine years.

Now 20 years later, he’s a warrior trainer with K9s for Warriors, helping other veterans cope with the struggles after war.

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Like many veterans, when he came back from combat, he dealt with substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.

When the service dogs are trained and paired with their veterans, Olson is the one who makes sure they know how to use them.

In 2011 and 2012, he was deployed to Afghanistan, but when he came back home, he wasn’t the same.

“I was upwards of probably 25 to 30 pills a day. I struggled over the years; I was hospitalized a couple of times for suicidal ideations,” Olson recalled.

Once he found K9s for Warriors and his furry friend, Sigma, in 2016, his life dramatically changed.

Olson said the organization and his new companion saved him and countless other veterans over the years who have struggled with PTSD and suicidal thoughts.

“Here I am five years later. I couldn’t imagine being without him. It breaks my heart to even think about that,” Olson said.

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This year on 9/11 Olson is also hoping that people sit back and reflect on one of the worst attacks on U.S. soil.

“I think it’s just something to really remember the sacrifices of so many, whether it’s the people who were at the World Trade Center that day, the people on Flight 93, all the veterans that have served since then,” he said.

K9s for Warriors confirmed of the nearly 700 warriors it has had so far, about 72%of them have had suicidal thoughts before being paired with a service dog.