MENLO PARK — The black Labrador retriever knew something was wrong. He refused to leave the side of Sandro Navarro, repeatedly nuzzling the troubled man, trying to comfort him.

It was the anniversary of that terrible 2003 day in Iraq when Navarro was the first to arrive at a blast scene that killed two friends in his Army unit and severely wounded a third. Somehow, the dog named Jason realized he was distraught.

“It was like he was telling me, ‘I’m going to keep licking your face until you stop feeling down, and I going to make you smile by doing something goofy,’ ” said Navarro, 36.

Some of man’s best friends are playing an innovative role in the VA Palo Alto Men’s Trauma Recovery Program as four-legged therapy for veterans finding their way through the darkness of post-traumatic stress disorder, thanks to Paws for Purple Hearts. The dogs are so perceptive they even will awaken vets from nightmares.

But there’s also a dual purpose to the program. Some of the veterans who come to the VA’s Menlo Park campus from around the country for military-related PTSD treatment are helping train the canines to become service dogs for physically disabled vets.


News10ABC – News10.Net
March 27, 2013
C. Johnson

An Iraq veteran who made it home OK but suffered for years afterward from his war experiences credits a service dog with saving him.

“I was helpless, emotionally set down and I had no idea where life was taking me,” said Steve Moore.

Moore, 32, served two tours in Iraq and spent four and half years in the Army. He was discharged in 2006 and had a wife, two sons, and a decent job, he said. But he was seriously troubled and into trouble. The marriage fell apart and he lost custody of his boys. He ended up in court. …

Continue news article source here: – Maryland Morning
March 19, 2013

Ten years ago on this day, the U.S. invaded Iraq, marking the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Earlier in today’s show we heard from a former Army Captain who served in Iraq. Now we turn to Lt. Col. Jeffery Camp, a 30-year National Guardsman who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Camp is currently serving as the executive director and chairman of the board of Paws for Purple Hearts.

Continue Article and Audio Source here:


Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: an issue shared by both the Military and the NFL. Despite injuries, victims also share an aversion to leaving the battlefield and football field respectively.



Article from Voice of America
By Zulima Palacio
August 03, 2012

WASHINGTON – According to a Rand Corporation study, more than 26 percent of American troops deployed overseas have returned to the US with traumatic brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD since 2001. Experimental programs that pair combat veterans suffering from brain injuries and PTSD with therapy dogs have showed positive results. Now four U.S. military bases have programs with dogs. Chief Master Sgt. Richard Simonsen, who was injured twice in combat, has benefited from the program.

Simonsen, the senior enlisted leader at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C. suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury he received while deployed in Afghanistan. He’s been working with Yoko, a Black Labrador retriever, in his struggle through it. Continue reading here:

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