A veteran gets a new friend to help him heal after years of service in the Marines. YNN's Madeleine Rivera has more on how a service dog can help the veteran get back on his feet.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Former Marine Jeremy Walton anxiously waited in Albany International Airport Saturday for a very special friend. The friend is Alana, a nine-month-old service dog.
"To be able to have that first interaction. It's the same as you would have when you have your first born," said Walton.
For years, Walton has been looking for a solution for his injuries after serving eight years in the Marines. He was medically discharged in 2010. But he never really healed. He sustained brain injury after getting hit by two roadside bombs in Iraq. He also struggles with PTSD.
"Over time, without the proper treatment, you get to that low and there's nothing you can do about it," he said.
"It was just really self-destructive. And I was just worried that he was going to do something to himself and that he would get in with the wrong crowd," said Stephanie Walton, his wife.
Things got so low for Walton that at one point, he says he considered committing suicide.
"I can't tell you how many times my wife has kicked in the butt for it. You can't feel that way," said Walton.
With Alana, he won't have to feel that way.
"When you're going through the PTSD, you really get to the point where you shut down and you don't want to get out. So when you get one of these dogs, you get to the point where you have to," said Tim McDonough, founder of Shepherds for Lost Sheep.
McDonough is a veteran, as well, serving more than 20 years in the Navy and New York Air Guard. Now, he runs Shepherds for Lost Sheep, offering service dogs at no cost for veterans. He connected with Walton thanks to Stride Adaptive Sports.
"To help me get myself fixed, this is probably the best way. She's going to be there to comfort you. She's going to be there to lick your face, lick your arm. She's going to play. Dogs are comfort," said Walton.
A friendship to spark a new beginning for Walton.
Lots of people wait at Albany International Airport for people to arrive. But photojournalist John Stampf takes us along as one retired Marine awaits a very special passenger.
YNN: Veteran gets service dog
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