Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Family of Heroes

A recent Wall Street Journal article told of a Scion, New York family who adopted a bomb-sniffing dog suffering from canine post-traumatic stress disorder. Gunner, who was mustered out of the Marines after service in Afghanistan, was adopted by Deb and Dan Dunham who drove from their western New York home to a South Carolina kennel to claim their newest family addition.

The skittish Gunner is adjusting to his new life with the Dunhams, albeit slowly. The dog is disabled by his wartime service, like many of his human counterparts who have experienced intense, vicious firefights and horrendous bomb blasts, sometimes over oft-repeated tours of duty. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have generated large numbers of traumatic brain-injury and PTSD cases among American troops, to include a brown-eyed Lab who at some point was pushed over the edge by the explosions and the gunfire.

Nonetheless, Gunner is fortunate to be in the care of a loving, unselfish family who is nurturing him back to health, slowly but inexorably. Each day that passes helps convince Gunner that he is safe, that he is truly out of harm’s way, that the sights and sounds that were once so terrifying and damaging to his canine psyche are no longer a part of his daily routine. Gunner may not ever forget, but again like his human counterparts, and with the help and caring of others, he can recover and live a fulfilling life.

Gunner has been given a second chance by the Dunhams.

And Gunner is helping to fill a void in the Dunhams’ lives. It should be noted here that Deb and Dan Dunham are the parents of Corporal Jason Dunham, USMC, who was awarded the Medal of Honor (posthumously) for his actions in Iraq in 2004. During a hand-to-hand encounter with an enemy insurgent, Cpl. Dunham covered a grenade with his helmet, shielding several members of his squad from the resulting deadly blast. In an act of incomprehensible bravery and soldierly love, Cpl. Dunham gave his own life to save the lives of his men. He is now, and will forever be, a legendary figure in a Marine Corps replete with legendary figures.

His parents are now sharing their lives and their love with a war dog who needs them in a big way. And for a long time.

Gunner is indeed a lucky Lab. Good luck with your new life, Gunner.

To the Dunham family: God bless you. Thank you for your inexpressible sacrifice and your incomparable decency.

And to Cpl. Jason Dunham: Semper fidelis, my brother. May you rest in peace.

1 comment:

  1. Great story, Jerry! Once again, this reminds us that FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.