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Dog helps Haverhill veteran, fallen serviceman’s family, heal

LEXINGTON, N.C. — Two years after returning to Massachusetts from Iraq, the worst memories of her combat experience began to resurface for Natasha Young-Alicea: Five dead Marines, killed while dismantling unexploded bombs; the bloody gear she collected for disposal; the personal belongings that she sorted, packed, and returned to grieving families.

Nightmares, migraines, and anxiety attacks followed. The 31-year-old became increasingly isolated and depressed. She withdrew from family and friends. “I went from this bubbly, flowery woman to this lukewarm . . .,’’ the retired staff sergeant began, her voice trailing off. “I felt like a visitor in my own life.”

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