NEW YORK (PIX11) — There is no greater bond than that between a man and his dog. That is evidenced by the relationship between 70-year-old Vietnam war veteran Chris Quiren and his 10-month-old Labrador mix Layla, a dog he credits with transforming his life.

Layla is a loving companion to the Manhasset man who was almost killed by a landmine, and for decades has endured the demons of post traumatic stress. “The scars are not all physical,” he notes, adding “the real scars are the internal scars.”

For Quiren, a Purple Heart recipient, the cloud of desperation began to lift this past summer when the veteran support group, “Operation Canine Companion,” provided him with the then 7-month-old Layla. It was a moment Quiren will never forget. His eyes sparkle as he reflects, “She jumped on my chest and lap and sat on my chest and I think we found a perfect companion. She had the most beautiful eyes.”

Such an emotional moment was made possible by the non-profit group Operation Canine Companion, which is part of a program by “Operation Warrior Shield,” a group that provides a wide range of support for veterans and other heroes to help heal their hidden wounds of war.

Bethann Carbone, the groups spokesperson, says “our goal is to provide newly trained, loving canines to military, veterans and first responders, people who have experienced trauma in the line of duty.”

Army Sgt. Carlos Figueroa, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after being hit by an IED in Iraq, is another early recipient of the program. He claims his companion Louie, a yellow Labrador Retriever, has uplifted his life.

The support group has partnered with the Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation to train dogs over a six-month period. They evaluate each dog’s temperament and how they might respond to demands. Training each dog costs $5,000, which is provided by public donations.

Carbone points out, “During this training the recipient is receiving training as well.”

For Quiren, there’s no question that Layla is his new best friend. “I don’t know what it is about her presence, but her being there is keeping me from getting into those depressive mood swings,” he said.

Companion dogs like Layla bring a sense of safety, camaraderie and special emotional support to their heroes. They actually help to transform the lives of veterans who, one way or another, are still dealing with the ravages of combat.