By Joel Hillan

DENVER (CBS4) – Mac Pickett is a veteran of the armed forces.

“21 years, United States Army, Sgt. 1st Class, retired,” he said.

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(credit: CBS)

His service to our country has left him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

He was chosen to be a part of a new program in which the group Beres Haus gives puppies to veterans with PTSD to help prevent suicide.

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(credit: CBS)

“Something in everyday life can send a trigger to him that could bring back memories. The dog is going to be able to be there to bring him back and pull him out of the darkness,” said dog breeder Deb Beres.

This is her first litter, with many to come.

“Suicide in veterans is around 22 veterans a day, and it will be nice to have that number be zero per day.”

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Aaron Alexander (credit: Wendy Galloway)

The program was launched in honor of Aaron Alexander.

Aaron was 19 years old and just starting his military career with the Army National Guard when he died by suicide.

“He loved his family. He loved the military. He was super smart and philosophical. He was just an amazing person,” said Aaron’s mom, Wendy Galloway.

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Wendy Galloway (credit: CBS)

Wendy has known the organizer for many years, inspiring her to start the program, raise awareness and honor Aaron’s memory.

“Knowing that Apollo the puppy was going to be there for Mac that would have meant a lot to Aaron.”

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(credit: CBS)

“The help has already started because I was really looking forward to this day and this day is upon us, yes,” said Mac.

Named Apollo after the fictional boxer from Rocky, Bev hopes he will know just how to help Mac in his fight to live.

“To be able to give them a social life, get them out and to give them the confidence that they need to be able to give them a life that they deserve,” she said.

If you are suffering from suicidal thought, we encourage you to reach out. There are many free resources available through the Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Joel Hillan anchors CBS4 This Morning on weekends as well as reports stories for CBS4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Follow Joel on Twitter @joelhillan.

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