PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- One in every five military service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the latest data.
June is PTSD awareness month and K9s for Warriors continues to help veterans with the disorder.
David Ingram is still on active duty in the Navy and is on his 10th year serving his country. He's been on three deployments and six combat tours, a remarkable achievement, but it came with a price.
"I don't have any visible scars but the visible scars aren't what really affect people for their life, what it is, is their mental scars and nobody can see those," said Ingram.
When he returned from his last deployment in 2010 and was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
"I started having real bad nightmares I had a lot of close friends of mine pass away," added Ingram.
This February Ingram graduated from the K9s for Warriors program in Ponte Vedra Beach where he met Oakley, an English Lab that, he said, changed his life.
"When they introduced me to Oakley I was kind of worried about the personality aspect if we'd even fit but she chewed on rocks, I chew on rocks," laughed Ingram. "When I get anxious she'll do what she's doing right now sitting on my feet walking around a little bit whine a little bit so she definitely brings me out of that state of disillusionment and brings me back to reality."
The program is two years old now and aims to raise awareness about PTSD by helping those who suffer from it.
The warriors are each paired off with a canine. Ninety-five percent of the dogs are rescued from shelters and now get a second chance at life to rescue a hero also in need of a new start.
"I'm grateful for them opening up and helping me find my new normal because that's what I'm looking for now, a new normal," said Ingram.
For more information visit the K9s for Warriors website here.
First Coast News