Following a dizzying two-year period in which he lost his eyesight in an explosion in Afghanistan and then came back to become a Paralympic gold medalist, Navy veteran Brad Snyder decided he wanted to adopt a service dog.
Gizzy, his German shepherd, has been with him since 2013 in his inspiring journey from being rendered blind by an improvised explosive device five years ago to winning seven medals in swimming between the Paralympics in London and Rio de Janeiro.
“I adopted her in a year that I used to put my life back together after a major change,” Snyder told TODAY. “She is an integral part of my life infrastructure now, allowing me to get from one place to another and not feel trapped in my house. Independence is a big part of who I am, and she helped give a lot of that back to me.”
Snyder, 32, was working in explosive-ordnance disposal with a SEAL team in September 2011 when he stepped on an IED while rushing to help two Afghan personnel who had triggered another IED. Despite undergoing more than 100 hours of surgery, he lost his eyesight.
All of this came on the heels of a tumultuous period that included a DUI that nearly derailed his military career and the death of his father while he was in Afghanistan.
“I went through pretty much every really major negative life experience and emerged on the other side,” he said.
We honor you, Brad Snyder.