David and Service Dog Kellen

David and Service Dog Kellen standing at the beach

As a fire support specialist in the U.S. Army, it was Cpl. David Medina’s job to penetrate enemy lines, face harsh hand-to-hand combat and call in airstrikes. It was a job that required efficiency, resilience and courage in the face of danger. The danger took its toll during a 2010 mission in Iraq, leaving David with life-changing injuries.

David was wounded in combat when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device that left him with a brain injury and physical injuries, as well as severe hearing loss. War also left invisible wounds – cognitive issues and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Coming home was a different kind of mission,” David says. “I saw things no one wants to see. When the adrenaline was gone, I really felt the injuries. The physical and psychological change was 180 degrees.”

At a military retreat, David and his wife Lymarie learned that a service dog could be a game-changer for David. In 2014, he was matched with Canine Companions Service Dog Lombard. Lombard helped David regain his lost independence by assisting with physical tasks from retrieving crutches and dropped items, to opening doors.

“Lombard was amazing,” Lymarie recalls. “He intuitively picked up on David’s anxiety and provided more awareness of his environment. David didn’t have to rely on me anymore.”

However, Kellen provides even more sense of safety and peace of mind for David, thanks to his training to mitigate symptoms of PTSD. Tasks like anxiety interruption and creating a buffer in crowds have been life-altering for David’s ability to connect with the world around him.

“When we’re in public, I can manage better because Kellen makes that space. I feel more at ease,” David remarks. “I am more comfortable in the world because of Kellen. Now I can even go to busy school events for my daughters that I couldn’t do before.”

With Kellen by his side, David can participate in his life more fully – doing activities he loves, like kayaking and cycling, spending time with his family and making new memories – knowing that Kellen has his back no matter what he needs.