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Medical center turning to puppies to help with healing

Tucked on the campus of Walter Reed Medical Center is a facility focused on helping soldiers recover from injuries suffered during war.

Inside those walls, a dedicated group of men, women and puppies are helping soldiers deal with the visible and invisible wounds of war.

For some of America’s toughest veterans, puppies are providing a life-line to pull them through the injuries of battle.

Capt. Robert Koffman, Chief Clinical Consultant, said, “The impact is evident and the impact is immediate.”

The impact of the specially bred service dogs has been life-altering for heroes fighting through the horrors of war.

Ultimately, they will serve physically impaired soldiers who are helping to perform the daily tasks they can’t accomplish.

Vice Admiral Matthew Nathan, Surgeon General with the U.S. Navy, said, “It is not just training dogs and getting a canine friend for someone in need. It’s people in need training these dogs.”

Through the Warrior Canine Connection, veterans with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries are training the pups as a part of their therapy and recovery.

Nathan said, “You watch the shields come down, the barriers come down. You watch the emotions come back. You watch the light sort of come back on.”

For Marine Sgt. Jon Gordon, who was recovering from a traumatic brain injury, the change came overnight.

Sgt. Jon Gordon, said, “I was getting about eight hours of sleep a week and I got about six hours the first night. So it’s helped tremendously, sleep, mood and I have a seizure disorder and he keys of it and it’s been pretty helpful.”

Interactive medicine from the National Intrepid Center of Excellence that can be more important than the state-of-the-art hospital treatment.

Nathan said, “We have millions of dollars of equipment and some of the best-trained providers on the planet but this dog did something we couldn’t do.”

The pups are allowing America’s heroes to adapt and not just survive, but thrive.

You can also see the dogs in training, or learn more about the program, at the Warrior Canine Connection website.