A United States Army veteran was moved to tears when his family surprised him with a gift he thought he’d never be able to receive.
Rudy Pena from Amarillo, Texas, sat down to read a Father’s Day letter his three children gave to him.
As he began reading the sweet letter, his expression quickly turned from one of curiosity to one of shock.
“We love you so much that we have been planning a big surprise for you. We have called around and been searching all over town for the best gift to explain just how much you mean to us,” the kids wrote.
“Let’s just say his name is Justice…”
That’s when Pena realized that his family had found the perfect dog to act as a service dog for him!
Pena spent 10 years serving as an Army Combat Medic, completing two deployments in Iraq. He was sent home after being diagnosed with cancer.
Even though he enjoys being home with his family, coming home has been a difficult adjustment. He has been struggling with PTSD, night terrors, and depression since his return home.
“We’ve tried everything possible but as most veterans know, there is no cure and memories never go away,” his wife, Samantha, said. “He has seen his brothers die in his arms and the memories haunt him.”
Pena and his wife have looked into getting a service dog to help him, but they quickly realized just how expensive a service dog and its training would be.
But as Father’s Day was approaching, Stephanie met a local breeder who was offering certified, purebred Labradors for an affordable price. She knew that this would be the perfect opportunity to get her husband the support he needed.
She signed the puppy up for training classes to learn how to help Pena with his PTSD and officially registered him as a service dog.
“We hope to always see you happy and strong like the dad we know and love,” Pena read through tears. “You have fought for our country and our ability to live each day to the fullest. Now we give you your very own protector to watch over you as you did the whole world.”
“Although we love many superheroes you are our favorite,” the letter concluded.
Pena loves his new canine friend. He said, “Justice and I immediately bonded — he is my battle buddy for life. He has had an amazing impact on me.”
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