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Dogs take the stress out of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

10:25 PM, May 23, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A group of military women who've spent the last few years suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are getting their lives back, with the help of dogs.

Onyx is a four-legged prescription for freedom for Jennifer Norris

"I just knew this is wrong and should be able to come to work without having people put their hands on me all day," said Norris.

The 14-year Air Force combat veteran suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after she said she was sexually assaulted by four of her senior commanders. It took her two years to work up the courage to report her first attack that she said happened in 1996, while in the Maine National Guard.

"I didn't dare go to stores. I would start crying if I had to leave the house, it was that bad," Norris said.

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, about 11 to 20 percent of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have PTSD and 55 out of 100 women and 38 out of 100 men have experienced sexual harassment when in the military.

So, with a large number of people in need of help, K9s for Warriors use dogs to help ease the stress of veterans.

Shelter dogs are transformed into service dogs over a three-week course that is run more like boot camp. The dogs and their handlers work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and push the men and women into public situations like going to the supermarket and getting gas.

"I just felt emotion again. It's like she opened up my heart," said Norris.

K9s for Warriors has a waiting list that's over a year long. The program is expected to graduate 50 canines and their warrior teams. They are funded completely by donations.

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