HEALTHY LIVING

Veteran With PTSD Says He Wouldn't Have Made It Without His Service Dog

06/27/2015 07:00 am ET | Updated Jun 28, 2015

Morgan Watt is a former Air Force working dog handler who specialized in explosive detection. Though he's been out of the military for almost 20 years, he was recently diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, an illness that affects around 8 million American adults each year -- many of them veterans.

Watt credits his service dog Foley, a golden retriever/Labrador mix trained at Southeastern Guide Dogs, for saving him from the crippling effects of PTSD. Foley helps Watt cope with the migraine headaches, vertigo, panic attacks, anxiety and depression that invade his life.

"There's something about Foley that makes you feel alive and very present," an emotional Watt says in the video above. "With his paw on my leg, I can feel him breathe, and that's very, very comforting. Out of all the therapy, out of all the treatment, I don't think I would have made it without Foley."

southeastern guide dogs

(Photo: Southeastern Guide Dogs)

On June 27, National PTSD Awareness Day, it's especially important to recognize the struggles of people suffering from PTSD and to keep searching for cures. Visit the National Center for PTSD for more information, and watch Watt in the video above to see the kind of change a service dog can make.

"When you're at the bottom of depression, you can't feel anything. And so, you're already dead," Watt explains, adding of Foley: "He's the one that's brought the feeling back into my life."

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If you -- or someone you know -- need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.

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If you have a story about living with mental illness that you'd like to share with HuffPost readers, email us at strongertogether@huffingtonpost.com. Please be sure to include your name and phone number.

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