July 2 2015 - They flew home from Iraq together on a spring day in 2010 on a C-17 cargo plane, the dog in a metal kennel on the floor at the soldier’s feet. When they reached the United States, the soldier went home to his farm in Fountain, Colo., and the dog was transported to the Army’s military kennels at Fort Carson, about 12 miles north.
Sergeant 1st Class Matthew Bessler and the Belgian Malinois named Mike had been part of a canine tactical team with the 10th Special Forces Group based at Fort Carson. On the ground in Iraq, their work had been phenomenal, earning Bessler two Bronze Stars, among the most coveted commendations in the military. During their second tour as part of an elite Special Operations group in a particularly deadly phase of the war, the pair had spent every day and night together for eight months.
Now back home, the days were never longer than when they were apart. It was as if one’s existence was proof of the other’s survival.
Both the soldier and the dog had come home with symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Mike was retiring as a combat dog, although his PTSD would get worse before it got better. And although Bessler had been in denial about his PTSD for some time, it would soon become clear that it had become too severe for him to return to war. read more>>>