FIREFIGHTER WHO SURVIVED 9/11 WORKS TO BREAK STIGMA SURROUNDING PTSD, MENTAL HEALTH

CBS News - September 11, 2023 8:37 am

A volunteer firefighter who survived the September 11 terror attacks is on a mission to break the stigma surrounding mental health and PTSD.

Ron Weisberg‘s service dog, Chip, is trained to recognize certain cues of post traumatic stress disorder.

“When he sees them, he comes over and gives me a whack with his paw. And basically he’s saying to me, ‘come on, let’s go for a walk. Let’s change it up. Let’s just get you in a different mindset,'” Weisberg explained.

A volunteer firefighter who nearly lost his life during 9/11 while helping others, Weisberg has struggled with survivor’s guilt and PTSD ever since.

“I had my suicide planned out. I just had to do it,” Weisberg recalled.

According to federal research roughly 1 in 3 first responders develops PTSD in the United States. First responders are nearly 10 times more likely to contemplate suicide than average Americans.

Robert Misseri is the co-founder of Paws of War, the organization that trained Chip and other service dogs to work with first responders and veterans with PTSD.

“We help them by, placing a dog with them or training their own dog to understand the balance and what this animal could do for them. Right down to sleeping next to you, waking you up when you have night terrors,” Misseri said.

Through Paws of War, Weisberg connected with others who knew exactly what he was going through. Earlier this year, he hiked the Appalachian Trail to raise money for the organization and to raise awareness of PTSD.

“Break the stigma. Get people comfortable with the idea of saying, ‘I’m having a problem. I’m gonna get help,'” Weisberg said.

Now Weisberg is moving forward, with new hope for the future and a friend by his side.

Weisberg said it took him more than two decades, but he is finally able to sleep through the night and his message to others is to never give up.

 

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