We continue to bring you the stories of veterans in our community.
Veterans who are using their struggles to help others.
Laura Caso has the story of unconditional love – how a service dog saved an army veterans life – time and time again.
At 140 pounds. With the stature of a soldier. This is Duke.
A gentle giant, best friend, a battle buddy for Retired Army Sergeant Toby Yarbrough.
“At the beginning, I didn’t want one. I was like, I’m not disabled, I’m not blind, I’m not deaf, I don’t need one.”
But he credits Duke for saving his life after he was severely wounded during a 2002 deployment.
He was on a mission to recover a front end loader in Afghanistan.
“In the process of repairing it, it shifted and when it did, it pinned me down, and when it did you had over 2-thousand tons on your back.”
In that moment – everything faded to black.
He broke his back in three places, suffered a traumatic brain injury robbing him of his short-term memory.
He medically retired in 2003, struggled to overcome PTSD and seizures.
He returned home and shelled out $40,000 for the very animal that would save him time and time again.
“He was trained that he would nudge me and if I felt my medication in his mouth, I knew I was having a seizure.”
We met the duo just months before Duke’s passing.
They went on a cruise, traveled to Belize, walked on a cat-walk for charity.
That’s why Toby has made it his mission to match veterans with service dogs.
Doctors, health specialists, even veterans from across the country team up with Toby to find the right service dog.
It’s the life he wants other veterans to live.
Today, Sasha is Toby’s rescue dog.
“It’s my story and it needs to be heard.”
For Yarbrough, Sasha and Duke are not only man’s best friend, but the buddies fighting the battle long after war.
“Unseen unheard but always near, still loved, still missed by always very dear.”
Toby wrote a story about how Duke impacted his life called: A Quiet healing.
That book is now an award-winning documentary.