Disabled war veteran receives surprise service dog

Former U.S. Army Sgt. Edwin Robles Jr. didn't know about the surprise his wife had been keeping until Sunday morning when he met Liberty, a specially trained service dog who will soon be joining his family.

Robles served in the Army for 31 years. He has been deployed all around the world, including to Afghanistan where he suffered a traumatic brain injury and stroke.

He told WSOC-TV he's still adjusting to life as a civilian in North Carolina. "Liberty is very precious, something special I’m glad to have as a service dog and not just having a service dog, but having a dog like that to understand me," Robles said.

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The local nonprofit Patriot Military Family Foundation helps coordinate special training for dogs to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Liberty is trained to guard Robles from someone coming up behind him. Liberty also can go into a room and make sure nobody is hiding. But Robles is most looking forward to taking Liberty fishing and on walks.

"I'm not walking him. We're walking each other," Robles said.

The war veteran has come a long way on his own. When he returned home from Afghanistan, he couldn't walk or talk and had vision issues.

Robles' wife, Deborah, wiped away tears as she spoke about the strides he has made and how grateful she is for Liberty.

"For the organization Patriots Military Foundation to acknowledge the invisible wounds and be able to help with the service dog, I’m just overwhelmed right now," Deborah Robles told WSOC-TV.

The service dog program is just one of the programs the foundation has to help veterans and military families. It’s funded entirely by donations.