On February 19, 2010, Nick Saunders got a call that would forever change his life. His best friend and fellow Marine, Cpl. Gregory Stultz, had stepped on an IED and died. Days later, Saunders found himself in Brazil, Indiana, a pallbearer at his best friend's funeral.
The horrors that Saunders experienced during wartime translated to nightmares when he returned home. "With witnessing suicides I see shadows," Saunders remarked in an interview, "They've talked to me, they've touched me, they've blamed me." He could barely sleep through the night.
Saunders was diagnosed with PTSD but initially refused therapy and medication. "I thought I could deal with it myself," he explained.
It became all too much for Saunders to handle on his own, and one day he walked into the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and gave staffers an ultimatum. "I looked at them and said, 'either you get me help or I shoot myself,'" Saunders recounted.
Staffers at the medical center recommended that Saunders get a service dog since he lived on his own and his parents were several states away. It wasn't long before Dr. Terry Morris found "the perfect fit" for Saunders. Days later, the Iraq veteran took home Winston, a white and brown beagle
When Saunders get anxious, Winston will jump on his lap. When he has nightmares, Winston nudges his owner and wakes him up to check on him. Saunders admits that Winston has turned his whole life around. He's gone back to school and now has to juggle his dog owner responsibilities with exams and papers.
Since adopting Winston, Saunders landed an internship with a local law firm. You can watch his story in full below.