josh__debra_2While deployed to Afghanistan to serve our country in 2010, Josh Sommers sustained a head injury caused by the blast of a rocket-propelled grenade. The injury left Josh in a coma for eight months, caused paralysis on one side of his body and a partial loss of both his hearing and vision. Five years later, Josh is making incredible progress in his recovery. He remains active and focused on the future — a future he can now tackle with Skilled Companion Debra by his side. Josh and Debra have enjoyed traveling the country together attending various veterans’ games and adaptive sports competitions. All the while, Debra is always ready to help whenever she is needed. She tugs open doors and retrieves Josh’s phone when it falls. “It is amazing how delicate she is with the phone,” Josh says. “She will not bite down on the screen when she picks it up.”You josh__debracould even say she is helping Josh learn braille. “I have
flashcards that I have been using to try to learn braille and whenever I drop a card, Debra is always right there to help pick it up for me.” Having Debra in his life has made Josh less reliant on his mother, Lisa, for help. Lisa has noticed other benefits as well. “In addition to the tasks Debra helps with, she also provides company. Josh knows she is there if he needs anything and he doesn’t feel alone,” Lisa says. Josh and Lisa have become great advocates for Canine Companions, recommending the program to other veterans and speaking to various clubs to share about the difference a Canine Companions assistance dog can make in a person’s life.

To learn more about how our dogs help veterans visit cci.org/veterans.

To make a donation to the Veterans Initiative click here.

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