SD Gunner — Service
I served 20 years in the US Army. I was classified 100 percent disabled with total body nerve damage, a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following my service in Iraq. Altogether, I was diagnosed with 43-plus injuries before being honorably discharged in 2010. Enter Gunner, a 4-year old Great Pyrenees mobility-assistance & PTSD service dog. Gunner & I were partnered in 2013. Gunner has given me a new life. I have periods where my legs & arms randomly cooperating with the rest of my body. This is where Gunner comes in. Gunner is trained to assist me in the same manner as a cane. I push against him to stand from a seated position. I hold on to his harness so he can pull me up. He pulls my wheelchair when my legs aren’t working, and licks me on the face to distract me when anxiety gets the best of me. He also watches my back and alerts me when someone is approaching from behind and creates a safe space around me so that people do not violate my personal space. Gunner has given me back the want to live. In 2014, Gunner became the first mobility assistance TBI Service Dog to be approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Southeast Georgia Coastal Region. Overall, Gunner has given me back my ability to feel independent therefore allowing me to be more involved with my children and my marriage. I would not be here if it weren’t for Gunner. Gunner is my hero and my battle buddy. I cannot do life without him.