Service dogs help Wash. soldiers battling PTSD

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- When the walls shrink and the panic sets in, Army Specialist Mike Ballard reaches for his service dog, Apollo, to help him get through his post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

Ballard was an Army medic who was injured in Afghanistan in 2009 by a roadside bomb.

Ballard received Apollo through a program at the Warrior Transition Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Last year, the base partnered with Bellingham-based Brigadoon Service Dogs in the effort to pair dogs with soldiers returning from combat who suffer postwar impacts, including PTSD.

So far, 12 dogs have been placed through the program at the base, six of which came from Brigadoon, but officials hope to see that number increase as more soldiers learn about the program and the number of dogs being trained increases.