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LI Veteran With PTSD Finds New Strength With Rescue Dog

YAPHANK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- It was a truly a special Christmas for two battle buddies on Long Island.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported, Air Force veteran Duane Franzone and Jada are still getting to know one another, and the two have a lot in common.

"To know she had such a hard life and she still has so much love and life left in her after what she's been through helps me get out the house more, and have more to look forward to," said Staff Sgt. Franzone.

Franzone served 12 years, flying treacherous missions in Afghanistan. He is one of the many returning veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

His new pal Jada suffered years of trauma too.

"She was very skinny, emaciated; she had cuts on her," explained Paws of War Dog Trainer Lauren Driscoll.

Rescuers found the 3-year-old pit bull with a broken jaw, huddled in dirt inside a crawl space under a Long Island home just one year ago.

Nursed back to health, Jada showed the sensitivity and smarts to become a veteran's service dog.

"We knew that she would be able to bring a veteran out of their shell and have a normal life again," Driscoll said.

Guardians of Rescue introduced Jada, now ready to serve, to Franzone earlier this week and it was love at first sight, Gusoff reported.

"I don't feel so alone. She gives me an insane amount of love," Franzone said.

So far, Guardians of Rescue's Paws Of War program has placed 22 rescue dogs with military veterans suffering from PTSD. The dogs get 9 months of training and what they give back is immeasurable.

"He's getting better," said Franzone's aunt, Lynn Weyant. "He just loves this dog. I'm telling you, like so in love with her."

"She makes everyone so happy. Everyone smiles when they see her, so it's like oh alright; it makes me feel like the world is not such a dark place," Franzone said.

The holidays can be an especially difficult time for returning veterans.

"Just like Duane, there are several that didn't want to get out of bed and now they're out and getting back into society, and know they are not alone," said disabled veteran Jerry Driscoll.

Franzone said its a very special Christmas with his new best friend.

The Guardians of Rescue organization rescues abused and neglected dogs around the world.

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