Vets Helping Heroes: How Service Dogs are Helping War Veterans | NBC 10 Philadelphia

Vets Helping Heroes: How Service Dogs are Helping War Veterans

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Man's best friend is answering the call to aid injured veterans of every generation. Service dogs are proving to be a priceless remedy for our brave military men and women. (Published Wednesday, May 6, 2015)

    Man's best friend is answering the call to aid injured veterans of every generation.

    Service dogs are proving to be a priceless remedy for our brave military men and women.

    You wouldn't expect to see a dog roaming the halls of a VA hospital.  But dogs like Bruce, a black lab, are there to work.

    He serves veterans, like U.S. Marine Terry Bryant who fought in Vietnam, helping them recover from the wounds of war.

    After 20 years as a drill sergeant, Bryant wants peace.

    "He settles you down, settles your inner thoughts," Bryant said about Bruce. "Maybe some things are troubling you -- maybe home problems or whatever. It helps for that."

    Therapy dogs like Bruce, Cash and Jennie are trained to help ex-military personnel cope with a host of struggles, from PTSD to lost limbs. But the deepest pain is loneliness.

    Bruce has the strength and the gentleness to comfort the heroes who can barely speak for themselves.

    "Bruce is good at what he does.  He is a very nice dog," Bryant said.

    The only downside to Bruce is that there are not enough service dogs like him to go around. Veterans wait years to get dogs like him.

    World War II veteran Irwin Stovroff is the man who makes it happen.

    Nine years ago, Stovroff realized that the government had no money to provide veterans with service dogs.  So at the age of 92, he stepped in and created the organization, Vets Helping Heroes.

    "I was lucky enough to realize this was an opportunity for me to really do something," Stovroff said.

    He teamed up with trainers, and since 2006, has matched 120 dogs with wounded veterans around the country.

    Bruce is one of three pups dedicated to an entire hospital.

    A POW himself, Stovroff has dedicated his life to making his comrades lives better, and he doesn't plan to stop.

    "It not only changed my life, it made my life," he said.  "It's love -- the only love you can get like that is to look in a dog's eyes and you'll see love.

    It's an unconditional love that conflict and injury cannot break.

    To find out more about Vets Helping Heroes, click here.