(WGHP) — When Katy Torney’s son Garret came home, it seemed like the war was finally over.
He served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.
The proud Marine’s smile could light up a room.
What his mom couldn’t see was the internal war he was fighting.
“He had PTSD so severely that we didn’t really even know who he was. He ended up sleeping in a closet on the floor. He was angry all the time. He startled at things,” Torney said.
“He had all of the classic symptoms of PTSD, but I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know what was wrong with him and it took years and years for him to kind of pull out of that. Even at the end, I’m sure he had symptoms of PTSD.”
Garret died in a car crash in June 2017. He was 30 years old.
Just a few months later, his family and friends started The Garret Torney Foundation.
It pairs veterans with service dogs to help manage living with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The more that I got to know the veterans and realizing that PTSD doesn’t just affect the veteran, it affects the whole family,” Torney said.
It’s why Torney wrote the children’s book “Boots.”
It’s a delicate way of helping families discuss some of the emotions a loved one may experience when he or she returns home.
Veteran Mike Krall has already sent copies to family members and wishes the book were available when he fought to make sense of his emotions.
“You’ve got family and friends that distance themselves because they don’t know or understand what’s happening just as much as you, and then you feel even more broken and alone,” Krall said.
The goal is for the book to be a step toward healing relationships and saving lives.
Something Torney knows Garret would be proud of.
“He would want us to be doing this to help his brothers,” she said.
After the book was printed, Torney and the team agreed veterans should not have to pay for a copy.
Instead, you can buy one for them. You can donate a book to someone who served by visiting the foundation’s website.