Group provides dogs to help veterans.

Marine Jarrett Gimbl with his service dog Gunny.

Courtesy Jarrett Gimbl

Marine Jarrett Gimbl with his service dog Gunny.

Without his dog, Jarrett Gimbl swears, he would be dead.

The yellow Labrador-hound mix hardly ever leaves the former Marine’s side — nuzzling Gimbl when his chronic headaches kick in, cuddling when he senses his owner sinking into depression.

“If I have a headache, he actually puts his head on my head,” Gimbl, who hasn’t been diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder but struggles with vertigo, irritability, aggravation and other related symptoms, told the Daily News.

“If I’m losing my balance, he leans on that leg. He knows everything.”

Gimbl, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, was honorably discharged in 2009 after suffering a traumatic brain injury in combat. After six years in the service, it was a struggle to return to normalcy — he was depressed and suicidal.

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“If it wasn’t for Gunny, I wouldn’t be here,” the Long Islander said.

He found the dog through Guardians of Rescue, a Smithtown, L.I., charity that provides service dogs to veterans in need.

Marine Ryan Rankins, who retired in 2008, suffers from PTSD and got a service dog on Sunday, thanks to Guardians of Rescue.

Courtesy Ryan Rankins

Marine Ryan Rankins, who retired in 2008, suffers from PTSD and got a service dog on Sunday, thanks to Guardians of Rescue.

“This is my opportunity to serve those who have served,” said founder Robert Misseri, whose group planned to deliver dogs to three other vets over the Veterans Day weekend.

Misseri works throughout the year to match veterans with service dogs, fielding Facebook messages from wounded soldiers, worried families and shelters with dogs that might be a good fit for service.

“It gives (the veterans) a trust level that they don’t have with people anymore,” he said. “That’s what gets them out of the house, feeling useful.”

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He recently placed a dog with a veteran who refused to sleep in the same room as his wife and wouldn’t get in a car or leave his house. Now he’s at the dog park every day and going to family functions, Misseri said.

But sometimes help can’t get there fast enough.

Just a week before the group was scheduled to bring a service dog to a former Marine in Connecticut, the man committed suicide.

“Unfortunately, he had children, a beautiful wife and was only 31,” Misseri said. “People don’t realize that this is such a big problem.”

The yellow Labrador-hound mix hardly ever leaves the former Marine’s side — nuzzling Gimbl when his chronic headaches kick in, cuddling when he senses his owner sinking into depression.

Courtesy Jarrett Gimbl

The yellow Labrador-hound mix hardly ever leaves the former Marine’s side — nuzzling Gimbl when his chronic headaches kick in, cuddling when he senses his owner sinking into depression.

Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day, according to the latest federal report.

“It’s been a problem for years, but we’re only now realizing this is PTSD,” Misseri said. “Vietnam vets turned to heroin — we didn’t realize they were suffering.”

On Sunday, Misseri delivered a service dog, a shepherd named Madeline, to Ryan Rankins in Culpeper, Va.

Rankins’ PTSD is so bad he won’t leave his house, and he’s constantly watching other people’s hands, hyperaware of any small movement.

“I’m a total recluse,” said the 28-year-old Rankins, who has a wife and three kids and retired from the Marines in 2008.

He hopes he can shift some of his vigilance to Madeline.

“Just knowing that she is watching around and will notify me of anything that is askew” will help, Rankins said.

Guardians of Rescue is run by volunteers and operates almost entirely via Facebook.

rmurray@nydailynews.com


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