A local nonprofit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is providing care to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, reported NBC affiliate WTMJ-4. The group, called Healing Warrior Hearts, offers a variety of programs for ex-military personnel struggling through life after service with permanent psychological scars.

"It changes a person. It changes them deep inside," Patricia Clason, an emotional intelligence expert and founder of the group, told WTMJ-4. "In order to find a sense of safety again, and open their hearts again, and not be in fear every day, requires the love of a lot of people to make that happen."

Veterans in the program participate in therapeutic exercises that force them to confront past traumatic experiences and work through the accompanying emotions. Healing Warrior Hearts also hosts specialty sessions for former servicemembers who suffered sexual abuse during their deployments.

U.S. Air Force veteran Johni Baxter took part in one such session.

"Healing Warrior Hearts has given me a sense of purpose and direction in my life," she said in an interview with WTMJ-4. "It has helped me to learn how to love and be loved again and that's an ability that has changed my life."

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 20 percent of all servicemembers who served in the last four modern military conflicts – the Afghanistan War, the Iraq War, the Gulf War and the Vietnam War – suffer from PTSD. Rates of diagnosis for the condition have risen over the past decade, reported Time magazine. In 2003, 190,000 veterans sought treatment for PTSD through the VA. In 2014, that number had climbed to more than 500,000.

Federal and state entities offer a number of services for veterans dealing with the condition but skeptics question the efficacy of these treatment programs. Others say many government-sponsored therapy plans for PTSD are fundamentally flawed.

In 2014 an Institute of Medicine panel leveled criticism against The Pentagon's offerings.

"[The programs] appear to be local, ad hoc, incremental, and crisis-driven, with little planning devoted to the development of a long-range approach to obtaining desired outcomes," the panel concluded.

Local programs such as Healing Warrior Hearts have picked up the slack and provide personalized, community-centered treatment. State governments and national nonprofits help, as well. Vermont recently began a statewide PTSD program for veterans. And national organizations like the Wounded Warriors Project offer therapy sessions and veterans insurance plans to former military personnel seeking treatment for psychological damage sustained in combat.