Soldier reunites with four-legged combat buddy

Monday, November 17, 2014
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Specialist Brent Grommet was reunited with his military working dog, a German Shepard named Matty.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Fort Campbell soldier has finally reunited with his four-legged combat buddy, after more than a year of fighting an adoption debacle at Fort Bragg.

"I'm beyond happy. It's like a dream," said Specialist Brent Grommet in a phone interview with ABC11 from his Midwestern home Monday morning. "You never expect things to work out this well."

Grommet and his military working dog, a German Shepherd named Matty, were reunited over the weekend in Fayetteville.

The reunion was made possible through a deal with the Army that was brokered by U.S. representative Richard Hudson (NC-08) and the American Humane Association. It all happened after Grommet's fight was documented in local and national media reports.

Spc. Grommet was separated from his military working dog when they returned from a deployment in July 2013. Grommet, who is assigned the 101st Airborne Division, returned to Ft. Campbell to be treated for brain and spinal cord injuries as well as PTSD. His German Shepherd, Matty, was transferred to Fort Bragg Vet Services for a torn ACL.

In an interview with Eyewitness News in July, Grommet said he'd submitted paperwork and been approved to adopt Matty following their recoveries, only to find out Matty had been adopted by a civilian with strong ties to the TEDD, the military's Tactical Explosives Detection Dog program.

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Grommet and his father, Don Grommet, pleaded for the owner, who lived in the Fayetteville area, to return the dog, or accept payment for it. They said the reunion was essential to Grommet's recovery.

The AHA also stepped in, offering thousands of dollars in reward money for Matty's new owner to come forward.

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Last week, national news outlets, including the New York Post, picked up Grommet's story, noting Robby's Law, a 14-year-old bill signed by President Clinton that gives veterans the right to adopt their service animals if they're both injured. The circumstances mirrored Grommet's case, but until the national spotlight, the soldier never had any luck getting the military to agree to right what the family believed to be a politically-motivated wrong.

By Friday night, Don Grommet said the family was brought to Fayetteville, where they were able to pick up Matty from a third party. That family, which wishes to remain anonymous, agreed to reunite Grommet with Matty in their home.

"Matty burst across the room, tackled Brent, and almost knocked him to the ground," said Don Grommet, describing the reunion. "Brent was worried whether Matty would still recognize him. There's was no question."

Spc. Grommet and Matty are on leave in their Missouri home. The soldier will return to Ft. Campbell for a short time as he awaits medical retirement. Matty may be able to join him during that period as a platoon mascot, said Don Grommet.

"He's doing great," said Spc. Grommet. "I actually kept every bit of gear, toys, food bowl and everything. He's loving all his toys he didn't think existed anymore. I broke them out this morning."

Don Grommet also notes a complete change in his son's demeanor since reuniting with Matty.

"My son was home, but he wasn't home," said Grommet. Brent and Matty are so happy now. Brent is laughing and smiling and talking a lot."

Now Don Grommet and the AHA are working with Hudson and other legislators to come up with laws that guarantee the reunion of injured soldiers and their MWDs.

"I won a battle, a very big battle, but the war is still waging on," said Don Grommet.

"Now begins the effort to make sure stories like Brent Grommet's never happen again," said Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of the American Humane Association. "We will immediately begin working with members of Congress to pass legislation that gives our two and four-legged veterans the respect they deserve and that honors the relationship our two-legged veterans have with their four-legged brothers-in-arms."

"These bonds are forged in the fires of war. They deserve to be honored and respected when these warriors return home. This is Matty's Wish."

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