To the left is Andrew Einstein and his dog Gunner.
At his high school graduation, the principal asked if any of the students would be entering the military. Andrew raised his hand. This shocked his parents, who thought he was headed off to college. Instead, he joined the Marines and was deployed twice, once to Iraq and a second time to Afghanistan. While there, he suffered a traumatic brain injury and remained hospitalized for two weeks. He was discharged and received a purple heart.
The adjustment at home was not an easy one. He began experiencing symptoms of PTSD shortly after his return. He tried desperately to hold it together for fear of losing his job as a police officer. Before long, things began to unravel. He was engaging in self destructive behaviors and becoming more despondent with each day. He found himself in an ever-deepening, dark hole.
His salvation came by way of a silver Labrador retriever puppy. It was a classic case of the dog selecting the owner. From that day forward, Andrew’s focus was on training his dog and getting well. They became an amazing team, competing in Operation Enduring Warrior, a nonprofit whose mission is to Honor, Empower and Motivate our Nation’s wounded and injured veterans. Andrew and two other marines recently completed a 100 mile walk from Philadelphia to New York that raised $11,000. This event also helped shed light on the stigma of PTSD and demonstrated that those suffering from it can still lead productive lives.
Andrew is a veteran, a police officer with the Westampton Police Department, a CIT-NJ Center of Excellence Instructor for Burlington County, a fire fighter with the Westampton and Riverton Fire Departments. He lives with his wife, baby boy and dog in Riverton. Andrew credits his dog, Gunner, with saving his life.
Please come out and support Andrew as he receives the Tri-State Canine Response Team 2017 Hero of the Year Award on September 9, 2017 at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken, NJ.
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