Monday, October 11, 2010

Broken Soldiers, Broken Dogs

This is Gunner:

From the Wall Street Journal on 6 Oct 2010, "Shell-Shocked Dog Of War Finds A Home With The Family Of A Fallen Hero,"
by Michael M. Phillips

Jason's Death in Iraq Left Room for a Marine at the Dunhams' House; Gunner Fit the Bill
SCIO, N.Y.—Gunner, a bomb-sniffing dog mustered out of the Marines for canine post-traumatic stress disorder, has found a new home with Deb and Dan Dunham, whose Marine son died in Iraq protecting the men beside him.

With patience and a red-rubber toy, the Dunhams are trying to coax Gunner back to emotional health. With liquid brown eyes and Labrador loyalty, Gunner is giving the Dunhams back a little of what they lost. Together, they are healing what they can and living with what they must.

"My Marine never came home," says Deb. "I have a place for a Marine."

Please read the rest.  I have a special place in my heart for pets, knowing that a dog was instrumental in saving a loved one's life in my family (more on that here).

In 2004, during a patrol near the Syrian border, Cpl. Jason Dunham found himself fighting an insurgent hand-to-hand on a dusty road. When two other Marines ran over to help, the Iraqi dropped a hand grenade.

Instead of rolling away, Cpl. Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet, shielding his men.

At the White House in 2007, then-President George W. Bush presented the Dunhams with their son's Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award.

Gunner is making slow progress, too. These days he sleeps under Deb's [Jason's mom] vanity, nose out instead of nose in. Dan [Jason's dad] spends hours playing fetch amid acres of fields and rolling hills. He is, he admits, in love with Gunner. "I think Gunner will overcome," Dan says. "Everybody's resilient—human and dog."

But the Dunhams know that they can't erase all of Gunner's scars, any more than he can erase all of theirs.

"To us it's like Jason died yesterday," says Dan. "To Gunner, whatever happened to him—it's probably like that happened yesterday. We get up each day and find a new way to get through the day realizing that Jason's not here. We have to pass that on to Gunner."

Broken soldiers, broken dogs.  It will take years, decades probably, to realize just how pervasively destructive our adventure in the Middle East has been.


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