NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Service dog helps military sexual trauma survivor graduate college

Service dog helps military sexual trauma survivor graduate college
Posted at 9:35 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 21:35:50-04

PALMETTO, Fla. — Stefanie Marvin-Miller said her service dog Leland is the reason she graduated from college.

"It was hard," Marvin-Miller said. "I didn’t think I could go to college."

Miller is an army veteran and military sexual trauma survivor. She said her PTSD was so paralyzing that she couldn't leave her home.

"I would have night terrors that were so awful and they blend into the daytime," Marvin-Miller said.

For years, the Murpheesboro, Tenn. resident said she tried to get a service dog but was rejected.

"There are so many service dog organizations and I was rejected by 11 different organizations because of the nature of my PTSD stems from military sexual trauma and not from combat," Marvin-Miller said.

But when Southeastern Guide Dogs in Manatee County heard Marvin-Miller's story, they responded and paired her with Leland, a yellow lab, who Marvin-Miller said has changed her life.

"He’s done so much, I can go grocery shopping," she said. "I was able to go back to college. He helps with flashbacks and he helped me focus in class."

Leland attended classes with Miller while she worked on her degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. On Saturday, Leland walked with Miller across the stage as both of their names were called during the graduation ceremony. Miller wore a cap that said “I hope my dog is proud of me,” and Leland had one that said— “I am.”