Puppies Helping Veterans Deal With Visible and Invisible Wounds of War

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Specially-bred service dogs saving lives, providing a life-line to pull veterans through the echoes and injuries of battle

    (NBC News: Jay Gray) - Tucked on the campus of Walter Reed Medical Center is a facility focused on helping soldiers recover from injuries suffered during war, training incidents and the like.

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

    The images don't seem to have any place together. But for some of America's toughest veteran's, these puppies are providing a life-line to pull them through the echoes and injuries of battle.

    “The impact is evident. And the impact is immediate,” says Capt. Robert Koffman.

    And 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, helping to perform the daily tasks they can't. But even as they train for that mission, these labs and golden retrievers are saving lives.

    "It is not just training dogs and getting a canine friend for someone in need. It's people in need training these dogs,” says Vice Admiral Matthew Nathan, surgeon general for the U.S. Navy.

    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.

    “You watch all of a sudden the shields come down, the barriers come down. You watch the emotions come back. You watch the light sort of start to come back on,” Nathan says.

    For Marine Sergeant Jon Gordon, recovering from a traumatic brain injury, the change came literally overnight.

    “I was getting like eight hours a sleep a week and I got about six hours the first night. So it's helped tremendously, sleep mood and then I have a seizure disorder and he keys of it and it's been pretty helpful,” the retired Sgt. says.

    Interactive medicine from the national intrepid center of excellence that, for some, can be more important than the state-of-the-art hospital treatment they're receiving.

    "We have millions of dollars of equipment and some of the best trained providers on the planet but this dog just did something that we couldn't do."

    They’re allowing America's heroes to do what they do best: adapt and not just survive, but thrive.

    If you couldn't get enough of the canine cuteness, you can see the dogs in training on puppy cam via the group’s website at www.warriorcanineconnection.com