New Brunswick

Veteran walking to raise money for PTSD service dogs

A Canadian Armed Forces veteran, who is walking from Nova Scotia to Ontario to raise money and awareness for veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, will be in Saint John on Tuesday.

Retired Sea King helicopter navigator Medric Cousineau hopes to raise $350K

A Canadian Armed Forces veteran from Nova Scotia is on a campaign to raise money and awareness for veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Cpt. Medric Cousineau and his service dog are walking through 50 communities in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario, with a goal of raising $350,000.

The retired Sea King helicopter navigator, who has been suffering from PTSD since risking his life in a daring rescue operation off the coast of Newfoundland in 1986, hopes the campaign, Paws Fur Thought, will buy 50 service dogs for 50 veterans in need.

Cousineau says his life has dramatically improved since he got his yellow Lab, Thai, from the Royal Canadian Legion two years ago.

'Before I had gotten her, I had so severely isolated from pretty much everyone and everything.'—Medric Cousineau

"I had no idea of the magnitude of the change," Cousineau told CBC News. "Near the end, before I had gotten her, I had so severely isolated from pretty much everyone and everything," he said.

"I have a 10 by 12 garden shed and I pretty much lived out there because I had one door and one window and I could watch them both."

Cousineau credits Thai's skills for his recovery.

"Everything from covering my back in public so that people won't touch me from the backside because I have severe hyper vigilance issues. She also deals with dissociative recall," he said.

"She can sense the change in my blood chemistry and if I wander off, it triggers a change. She can smell it and she interacts with me to get me to stop going where I was."

Cousineau, who estimates he is walking the distance of a half marathon every day, is scheduled to be in Saint John on Tuesday.

He will stop and talk to people and accept donations along the way, including some cheque presentations from local organizations.

There will also be a Hot Dogs Fur Service Dogs BBQ at the #69 Legion on Wilson Street from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m.

The campaign, which started in Eastern Passage, N.S. on Aug. 1, is scheduled to wrap up in Ottawa on Sept. 19.