• Dolphin therapy helping veterans overcome PTSD, WWP says

    By: Ryan Nelson , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    Leonardo Yui served in the Navy. Like many veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, he lives with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

    “I think the first panic attack I had, I think it was in 2009,” said Yui. “That was after I came from Afghanistan. And I still didn’t know what it was.”

    Jax the dolphin survived a shark attack in the Jacksonville area. The dolphin was found in the St. Johns River with serious injuries from the attack.


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    His injuries included a severely damaged dorsal fin. Jax was taken to the Dolphin Research Center in Marathon..

    Jax is living out his days there and helps veterans like Yui with PTSD.

    Yui told Action News Jax he sees many similarities in his PTSD symptoms and Jax’s survival story.

    Yui and his wife traveled to Marathon about a week ago to spend time with Jax and swim with other dolphins at the center.

    He said it was a peaceful experience and an effective form of therapy.

    Johanna Trottier is part of the Wounded Warrior Project team that makes possible.

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    “He’s missing part of his fin, and like Leo was saying, he’s very similar to the warriors we have,” she said. “You have physical wounds outward, and then wounds inward.”

    While PTSD symptoms can impact a veteran’s family members, Trottier says their method is to bring vets and their spouses together.  

    “They not only dove right into the stuff with the dolphins and really puts themselves out there to get everything they could from that,” said Trottier about Yui and his wife. “But, the curriculum we were teaching, they really pulled from, and were open, and vulnerable with each other, and in front of us. It was a really wonderful experience.”

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