SMITHTOWN - A veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following his service during the Vietnam War is now receiving some help in the shape of a four-legged friend.
Hank Urnitis, a two-time Purple Heart recipient from Smithtown, received his service dog Oscar courtesy of Paws of War, a volunteer organization that places rescue dogs like Oscar with veterans.
For years, Urnitis says he had anger issues and suffered from depression. He was diagnosed with PTSD and completed several treatment programs before a colleague suggested he call Paws of War.
Robert Misseri, president of Paws of War, says Urnitis is now able to get in a car and head to the supermarket or other store without symptoms of PTSD manifesting.
Oscar's initial training lasted three months. He's only 8 months old. Even though Oscar will live with Urnitis, he'll remain a service dog in training for another year.
Paws of War is seeking a sponsor for Urnitis and Oscar. With the exception of hired trainers, the organization is run by volunteers.