Navy veteran with amnesia and PTSD finds solace in service dog

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LEXINGTON, Neb. (KSNB) -- Imagine waking up one day thinking it is 1994, but it is actually the year 2009.

That's what happened to Buf Kloppenborg, a Navy veteran from Nebraska. Luckily, a service dog has helped Kloppenborg tremendously in getting through his amnesia and severe PTSD, but now he's in need of a new dog and is look for the help of the community.

"I pull over to get some sleep and the next thing I know, I wake up and it's 2009, and I'm driving a Jeep that's not mine," Kloppenborg recalls, describing the night that when his world changed.

In 2009, the Navy Corpsman woke unable to recall the last 14 years of his life, including the last 4 out of 7 military deployments.

"They diagnosed me with having dissociated amnesia, brought on by untreated post traumatic stress, two traumatic brain injuries and a pending divorce," he said.

Kloppenborg had no recollection of his recent time spent in the military, nor his four children and soon to be ex-wife. He started having flashbacks and other PTSD triggers, which became extremely confusing and difficult for him to deal with.

"I'd have reactions to noises," he explained. "I'd have reactions to different things and my reactions would make no sense."

Kloppenborg quickly found himself severely isolated.

"I couldn't handle being around people. I was constantly on guard, constantly stressed. If someone came walking past me, I would automatically tense up. In order to get food in the house, I'd find a gas station in the middle of the night. They couldn't figure out why anyone would come in and spend $100 on junk food, but it was like, this is the only place I can shop," he said.

That's when he decided it was time to make a change before things spiraled any further. This is where his trusty companion, Sally, comes into the picture.

At first, Kloppenborg was skeptical but before long, Sally was getting Buf back out and into as normal of a life as possible.

"It took a few days after I could finally feel comfortable enough with her," he said. "I was actually able to go into a Walmart, I can go into a grocery store. I can go anyplace I need to, for anything I need to."

Including Lexington, Nebraska dealership Platte Valley Auto, where you can often find Kloppenborg and Sally hanging out. It's a place Buf feels safe, and where the two have become part of the store's family.

"I remember when he initially started coming into the building, he used to hide in the corner," employee Jeremy Walton recalled. "Now, we've gotten to the point where Buf comes in and Sally lays down and takes a nap. She's extremely comfortable, Buf's safe."

Sally is soon due for retirement as her age and years of service will soon tap her out. This means Kloppenborg will need to make many trips back down to North Carolina, where the Pets for Vets organization and training facility are. And while the dog is paid for by the organization, the trips to travel there aren't.

"We care a lot about Buf and we care a lot about Sally. Buf's always stopped by when he's been in the neighborhood," said Walton.

When the team at Platte Valley Auto heard about Buf's troubles,they stepped in to help their guy out and have since started a GoFundMe account.

"When he asked us for help, we absolutely got on board," said Walton.

For Kloppenborg, every day is a challenge, and doctors say he may never gain the 14 years of memory back that he lost. But for him, it's coping with this new normal and making sure other veterans with PTSD get the help that they need.

The money that Platte Valley Auto is helping to raise will go towards lodging and transportation as he'll need to travel to North Carolina between five to seven times.

To help Buf visit:

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