LIMA — There is a saying that a dog is a man’s best friend, and that holds true for Army veteran Louis Belluomini, whose K9 service dog “Star” has helped him recover from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
A private viewing of a film “A New Leash On Life: The K9s for Warriors Story,” a film that has been nominated for four Emmy awards and stars Belluomini and his K9 service Dog, Star, was shown Monday at Lima Memorial Hospital in the Auxiliary Conference Center. The movie was released on Veterans Day and can be viewed on Amazon Prime Video.
K9s For Warriors is dedicated to providing service canines to warriors suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma as a result of military service post-9/11. The goal is to empower military veterans to return to civilian life with dignity and independence.
The organization has saved the lives of more than 400 veterans and 800 dogs.
Doug Larue, Lima Memorial Hospital EMS manager, had the idea to invite EMS, fire and police personnel from northwest Ohio to attend the event.
“Louis has done a phenomenal job of promoting PTSD, and with the high suicide rate of fire, police and EMS and veterans, it’s time we bring it to the forefront instead of pushing it under the rug,” Larue said.
He said over 20 vets commit suicide every day.
Belluomini, 34, of Findlay, is a paramedic who serves both Putnam County and Hanco EMS departments. He served in Iraq from 2008 to 2009 and in Afghanistan in 2011. He served in psychological operations and was commissioned as an officer and served in military police. He served in the Army for 9 years and got out in 2015 with an honorable discharge.
After he got out, he was diagnosed with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury.
“Major issues I was facing was I was having night terrors and major sleepwalking issues, and Star will now sense that and climb on me before I get up,” Belluomini said.
He said Star is with him 24/7 and goes on calls in the ambulance with him while he serves as a paramedic.
He learned about K9s For Warriors from a friend and applied for the program and trained with Star, who was 1 at the time, and has had Star for the past 2 years.
He was approached a year ago by the public relations director for the film for his story to be featured in the film.
“I think of Star as my medication, and if I didn’t have her I wouldn’t be here. I was at the verge of suicide and nothing was helping, and having her was my last ditch effort, and it helped,” Belluomini said.
His wife, Jessica, is the supervisor of care coordination at Lima Memorial Health Systems and also makes her debut in the film sharing how Star has helped Belluomini.
“Before Star, there were lots of sleepless nights, but her set of eyes helps to tell him if things are a danger,” Jessica said.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.