KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A disabled veteran is receiving a special gift to help him cope with injuries he suffered while fighting in Afghanistan. The group, Food Industry Serving Heroes, spent $5,000 to get Brandon Garrison, 29, a service dog that will help him live independently. Garrison walks with a cane because he has difficulty keeping his balance. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, loss of hearing and post traumatic stress from two tours in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007.
FISH rushed to get the dog for Garrison, because the group knew his father was suffering from terminal cancer and wouldn't be able to take care of his son much longer.
"I have vertigo spells that I have gone through at a TBI clinic down at Audrey Murphy VA Hospital in San Antonio," Garrison said. "I've been through a lot of cognitive rehab, things like that. Honestly, when I got back I redeployed with my unit and I had no idea."
The dog, Taz, arrived in the nick of time, because Garrison's father passed away last night. Garrison says his father had peace of mind knowing that the dog was on its way.
"It's going to help me emotionally, physically especially in the healing process right now with the passing of my father," Garrison said. "But ultimately a lot of veterans need it for post traumatic stress, balance issues, for traumatic brain injury or vertigo spells."
The veterans support group also will fly Brandon and Taz to North Carolina so that Garrison can be trained to properly use the service dog to help him in his life. Garrison says he and other veterans are grateful for the support he received from groups like FISH. He says it helps his healing to know that people care.
"I think it's important for America to understand that, just because you've been to combat and you've come back with all of your parts doesn't mean that everything is normal," said Paul Chapa of Food Industry Serving Heroes.
Specially trained service dogs like Taz usually cost about $30,000. Sponsors, including Kansas City's Three Dog Bakery, helped FISH purchase the dog for Garrison.