In recognition of service to our country, Freedom Guide Dogs will place a guide dog at no cost, anywhere in the continental United States with a veteran who has lost vision in the line of duty.
Freedom Guide Dogs recognizes, appreciates and supports the service and sacrifices of all service members who have fought for our freedom. We attempt to give back in some measure by providing freedom and independence to blind and visually-impaired veterans.
Below are several stories of veterans we have been able to assist (some with multiple disabilities). To learn more about our Veterans’ Program, please call us at 315-822-5132.
David & Sarge
For ten years, Staff Sargeant David Stemmerich of Parker, Pennsylvania devoted his life to serving in the U.S. Army. He completed two, one-year tours in Iraq as an Infantryman. Between tours, he was stationed in South Korea for four months. At just 28 years old, David suffered a traumatic brain injury, caused by the IED explosions and severe post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD creating a myriad of mental, social and physical problems that have deeply affected both David and his family. His wife, Stephanie says David isolates himself from everyone, including his toddler daughter.
With Sarge as his security, David is able to slowly venture back out into the world.
Eric & Deacon
Before losing his sight in a road-side bomb explosion, Sgt. Eric Martz served with the National Guard in Iraq. Today he is able to travel independently with the help of his guide dog, Deacon, aka “Deacon the Beacon.”
The road to recovery for Sgt. Martz has been a long one. However, with Freedom’s Hometown Training service, Eric has been able to regain his independence without having to leave home. Freedom Guide Dogs brought a well-trained Deacon to Eric at his home in North Dakota, training the team in a familiar setting on commonly traveled routes without interruption of Eric’s daily routines.
“In the Army we train with a buddy, you entrust your life with that soldier. Deacon is my new battle buddy. I put my life in his hands getting around town.”
Chris & Ike
Sergeant Chris Paiser of Plattsburgh, NY, was in the Army National Guard for 17 years. He was deployed to Iraq in 2004 with the 108th Infantry as a fire-team leader. On June 16, 2004, Chris’ life changed forever when 57mm Hellfire rockets hit the post exchange where Paiser had taken his team on a day off. Chris lost vision in both eyes….along with his independence.
Through a contact at the Wounded Warrior program, Paiser met Eric Loori, Executive Director of Freedom Guide Dogs. He was particularly interested in Freedom’s Hometown Training program since it made sense to him to train with his dog in the community where he would be using his guide.
And that is how Paiser’s guide dog, Ike, changed his life by providing freedom and independence.