Nov 11, 2013 12:58 PM by NBC News
(NBC News) Tucked on the campus of Walter Reed Medical Center is a facility focused on helping soldiers recover from injuries suffered during war, training incidents and the like.
Inside those walls, a dedicated group of men, women and puppies are helping soldiers deal with the visible and invisible wounds of war.
The impact of the specially bred service dogs has been life altering for heroes fighting through the horrors of war.
"The impact is evident, and the impact is immediate," says Captain Robert Koffman, the Chief Clinical Consultant at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence.
Ultimately they will serve physically impaired soldiers, helping to perform the daily tasks they can't, but even as they train for that mission the labs and golden retrievers are saving lives.
"It is not just training dogs and and getting a canine friend for someone in need, it's people in need training these dogs," explains Vice Admiral Matthew Nathan, Surgeon General of the Navy.
Through the Warrior Canine Connection, veterans with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries are training the pups as a part of their therapy and recovery.
"You watch the shields come down, the barriers come down. You watch the emotions come back. You watch the light sort of come back on," Vice Admiral Nathan says.
For Marine Sergeant Jon Gordon, recovering from a traumatic brain injury, the change came overnight.
"I was getting about eight hours a sleep a week and I got about six hours the first night," he recalls. "So it's helped tremendously, sleep mood and I have seizure disorder and he keys of it and it's been pretty helpful.
Interactive medicine from the National Intrepid Center of Excellence that for some can be more important than the state-of-the-art hospital treatment they're receiving.
"We have millions of dollars of equipment and some of the best trained providers on the planet, but this dog did something that we couldn't do," Vice Admiral Nathan admits.
Allowing America's heroes to do what they do best, adapt and and not just survive, but thrive.