FORT SILL, Okla. - A program designed to help anyone who is disabled wants to reach out to more wounded warriors.
Saturday, the Canine Companions of Independence or "CCI" held an information session at Fort Sill to let them know about their organization. Through their Wounded Veterans Initiative, the CCI provides assistance dogs to veterans with physical disabilities.
At the conference, one veteran spoke out about his experience with the organization.
"Sergi and I have been together for about 2 years. He just turned 4 the other day and he is a great partner," said Kirk Black.
Black speaks highly of the CCI organization. He's a retired infantryman, and about 10 years ago, a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.
"For the first year of my injury I was pretty much bed ridden… couldn't go anywhere, couldn't do anything mostly because of pain issues," said Black.
He says after that he became more active.
Black says during a trip to Colorado with the Texas Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans a few years ago, he met some folks with the CCI.
"I was amazed at seeing dogs that were 9 to 10 months old and so well behaved and just so loving as most dogs are," said Black.
It was then that he was sold on the program.
Black says Sergi knows 50 commands and can assistance in turning on or off the lights, pulling him while in the wheelchair, even grab items like a cell phone off the floor.
"So if I was out somewhere and I dropped my cell phone and couldn't reach it, I'd say Sergi, Sergi get. That's it. That's it. Heal. So, then if I couldn't still reach it, if I didn't have great dexterity, I could tell him Sergi lap. That way I can get him closer to me. Drop. That's it... Good boy."
Even though black wasn't injured while serving, he knows what it's like to be a veteran. He says these dogs are a perfect fit for disabled military personnel.
"When you do get those injuries, you might lose a little bit of that self confidence, or feel you know not so ready to tackle the world."
A personal battle black says he's faced and overcame.
He says he can only credit his success to Sergi, his best friend.
"Just the companionship period, having that extra support with somebody next to you. Just having him there for me when I'm having pain."
Now these dogs are well trained. They go through almost 2 years of training and then matched with their owner. The great thing about it, the dog is free once accepted into the program. However, when you become the owner, cost responsibilities turn over to you.