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Blinded Veterans Take Back Their Freedom

By: Elyse Miller News Channel 3 Reporter emiller@kesq.com

WHITEWATER – Veterans of war who were injured and blinded were given the gift of mobility and confidence on Sunday. Guide Dogs of the Desert held a graduation ceremony for dogs who completed training and will now become guides for veterans.

Master Sargent, Dexter Durrante became blind on August 17th, 2007 during a training mission. Adjusting to his new way of life was a struggle. but his new dog is guiding is clearing his walk through life.

” My dog is Shepard, the good shepard and I’m his flock,” says MSG. Durrante, U.S. Army.

Through Guide Dogs of the Desert, Dexter joins six other veterans who are taking the reins to their new guides. It’s a ceremony attracting community members, animal lovers and celebrities.

” These veterans have fought for our country and our independence and they have lost their site, it’s a wonderful wonderful gift that they lost,” says event spokeswoman, Paula Abdul.

Guide Dogs of the Desert started back in 1972, since then they have given out more than one thousand dogs to people who have been blinded. Now as more service men and women are wounded in war, they are increasing their focus on helping veterans.

” They served our country to keep us safe,” says Guide Dogs of the Desert Director, Roccie Hill.

Rose Schumaker spent many years in battle, fighting in three wars. She started going blind in the 80’s. As her sight faded so did her confidence, but with Pearl by her side, she’s empowered and encouraged.

” She’ll let me know if there is a curb or if there is something in the road to walk around, she is absolutely wonderful,” says Schumaker.

Durrante agrees, he says Shepard is a friend he can trust to guide him along a safe path toward independence.

” Shepard definitely changed my life,” says MSG. Durrante.

KESQ News Team

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