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Ken Doyle joined the Army in 2009 at the age of 21. H MOS (military occupational specialty) was explosive ordnance disposal (EOD). Service members who work in EOD are all volunteers, and the training is specialized. Ken scored high on his military aptitude test; with his recruiter, they narrowed it down to satellite repair technician and EOD.
Ken was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, before deploying to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2012.
While conducting a post-blast analysis of an IED (improvised explosive device) that had previously detonated, the unit’s team leader discovered a secondary explosive device. The device detonated. Ken survived because he was shielded by his team leader, who was killed. However, he lost his right arm, sustained severe traumatic brain injuries, and abdominal and leg injuries. He also developed post-traumatic stress disorder.
During his rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Hospital, Ken learned of America’s VetDogs from his squad leader, Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Grundy, who was teamed with his own service dog from VetDogs in 2009. “All the positive feedback I received from other patients and staff about VetDogs made it an easy choice,” he says.
Ken’s service dog Trooper has been trained to retrieve things he drops and bring them to him; carry items; pull open doors; turn light switches on and off; and remove items of clothing.
The dog has helped with his anxiety too. “Having Trooper with me is such a big comfort when I’m feeling overwhelmed. He is a big help with my physical issues, but the emotional support he gives me is the biggest change he provides.”