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Dolphins kiss wounded warriors; help ease scars of war

Posted at 2:40 PM, Nov 10, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-10 14:40:06-05

VALLEJO, Calif. (KPIX) - Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from brain trauma, or PTSD, tried a new type of therapy this week in California.

The men came home with invisible scars: hardened and psychologically traumatized by their combat experiences.

KPIX-TV’s Da Lin said some of the men were open to talking about their injuries.

“Nightmares are common occurrences. Although they've gotten less and less frequent. But every time it comes up, it is still just as dramatic as they were,” Retired Marine Sgt. Bret McCauley said. 

The therapy took place in a tank at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and included ten war veterans from a PTSD recovery program at the Pathway Home.

At first, there was a lot of skepticism from these service members. Their relationship began with just a little rubbing on the dolphins. But once they got comfortable with the mammals, the vets started dancing with the dolphins and even riding them around the tank.

In just two short hours, that emotional connection between the veterans and dolphins ended with kisses.

“I just want to feed them fish and play. I just want to jump back in right now,” Iraq Army veteran Sgt. Charles Quigley said.

The experiment was such a big success that the program may expand to bring other soldiers to the park for future treatment.

As for the ten veterans in the pilot program, they left with big smiles and even paintings from the dolphins.