Wounded Veterans Get New Leash On Life

Veterans matched with Patriot Paws service dogs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Three service dogs graduated from their Patriot Paws program and are going home to help wounded warriors deal with their injuries.

    This Veteran's Day, wounded military heroes will start their new journey with man's best friend, thanks to an organization playing matchmaker.

    Patriot Paws had a graduation ceremony Friday for three veterans and the service dogs who will change their lives.

    It's a second chance for those who've sacrificed so much, such as wounded Iraq veteran George Parker. 

    "Will has given me my freedom back," Parker said. "He gives me a reason to get out bed. He gives me a reason to live."

    Patriot Paws, an organization that pairs up injured military vets and service dogs, introduced the veterans to their four-legged friends.

    The pups spend up to two years in very intense training, but they also help with deeper scars, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Afghanistan veteran John Oldham still has night terrors from the war when his friend died in his arms.

    "Probably forever -- I've lost a piece of me that I'll never get back, but with her help and my spouse's help, I'm learning to cope with it and make each day a little easier to deal with," he said.

    The puppy is not only restoring his hope but his family's.

    "It's going to bring my husband back and he's been home for a long time but he hasn't been back for a very long time," said Tyla Oldham.

    At this graduation, the organization celebrates the 50th dog paired with a veteran since the program launched six years ago. This is the first time that the three dogs graduating are rescue dogs.

    "I've literally had veterans sit in front of me and say they would not be alive today without their dogs," founder Lori Stevens said.

    "That's what all of this is for," Tyla Oldham said. "It's not a dog; it's an angel with four paws, and I shall always consider her that."

    Angels with unconditional love for their wounded warriors.