Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013 4:10 pm | Updated: 4:42 pm, Wed Jul 3, 2013.

Today, we have the first of a three part series aimed at helping heal our nation's wounded warriors.

For U.S. troops who have seen combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mental stress doesn't always end when they return home.

Our story tonight focuses on the effort to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with the help of man's best friend.

War is hell. Coming home can be hell too. Sgt. Michael Bossio has PTSD. "I really get overwhelmed really easy."

Willie Calhoun, a Vietnam vet, also has PTSP. "I just explode."

These men have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The Department of Veterans' affairs reports in 2012, more than half a million veterans were treated for PTSP. Close to 120,000 served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Many are prescribed drugs like Zoloft or Paxil.

But Sergeant Michael Bossio says Harley is the best medicine. "He helps ease my anxiety when, when we're out in public."

Calhoun says before he had Chelsie he was on high doses of four PTSD drugs. With her, he's down to one. So why do the dogs make such a difference for the vets? The truth is the research is severely lacking.

"It's faith based evidence and the military and the government don't like faith based evidence," says Bart Sherwood, Program Director, TADSAW.

The V.A. started a first of its kind study on PTSD service dogs, but enrollment was suspended last year. A spokesman tells us the V.A. "Is working to develop a new plan to carry out this research, potentially in multiple locations." Until the evidence is confirmed by science, the V.A. will not reimburse vets specifically with mental conditions like PTSD for their service dog's veterinary care, travel expenses, or anything else. Even without scientific proof, the impact of the pups is clear to these vets. "It's good to be out and about," says Calhoun.

The American Humane Society and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York are urging the government to reimburse vets with PTSD for service dog-related costs.

Tomorrow in Health Smart, we'll tell you how one Wounded Warrior's endless motivation let to a one of a kind medical innovation.

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