- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) - For Vietnam War veteran John Wells, the experience of combat still carries emotional scars.

“I saw a lot of stuff that affected me,” said Wells, who was a Navy medic with the Marine Corps.

But now, his post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks will be helped with Cash, a black Labrador with soulful eyes and a quick wag of the tail that was given to him by Dogs Helping Heroes Inc. The nonprofit organization trains dogs that were rescues into service animals that can provide emotional comfort to veterans.

“I think the dog is going to make me feel better about myself and what I did,” Wells said, as he reached to pet Cash’s head.

Cash was found abandoned in the backyard of a rental home in New Albany in November 2014 by neighbor Lauren Howard, who also runs Piece Of My Heart animal rescue.

Emaciated, the lab was nursed back to health by Howard and her husband, Steve, before the dog was donated to Dogs Helping Heroes in February. The dog spent time being trained by inmates at the Luther Luckett Correctional Facility before receiving final training from Tyler Ohlmann at Matt Duffey’s Dog Training Center in Jeffersonville.

“He went from a prison, and now he’ll help someone in this emotional prison and he’s going to free him from it,” said Howard, who came to see Cash unite with Wells. “It’s wonderful. It’s emotional.”

The nonprofit organization was founded by David Benson, whose brother suffered PTSD after serving a tour of duty in Iraq. Dogs Helping Heroes hopes to place up to four dogs next year. The organization was formed in 2013, with one dog being placed in 2014.

“Today was one of the best days of my life,” said Benson, of Wells getting Cash.

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Source: The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, http://cjky.it/1ITVyJL

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

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