Condrey and the rest of Team Navy were joined by members of a fellow sea service, the U.S. Coast Guard. A rare genetic neurological disorder diagnosis forced Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Rob Troha to retire after 13 years in the Coast Guard. As he watched his motor skills deteriorate, Troha felt like he lost his identity. But the arrival of his service dog, Gauge, has helped him reestablish a new sense of self.
"He is my mobility animal, and dogs are 100 percent objective," said Troha. "They are very loving creatures, and I believe that dogs have soul."
These warriors and their service dogs are just a few of the pairs that were at the Warrior Games, and an even smaller portion of the thousands of service dogs across the country. They faithfully serve their people, peoplewho served our country in times of peace and times of war.
Many of the athletes who are assisted by a service dog told fellow competitors that getting a service dog isn't a sign of weakness, but an extension of regaining or develop more independence.
Retired Navy Airman Brett Parks, a former Warrior Games competitor, served as an athlete ambassador during this year's games. Parks not only endorses adaptive sports for service members but also recommends service dogs to assist them. Parks was there to cheer on his shipmates with his faithful service dog Freedom, a white standard poodle, easily spotted with his red, white and blue mohawk.
Freedom gave Parks his independence back. Parks, who lost his right leg after intervening in an armed robbery outside his gym in 2012, put his name on a two-year wait list to be paired with a dog. Freedom helps Parks not only with his PTSD, but with tasks such as retrieving items like a phone or keys, and helps him get up if he falls.
"Freedom is a part of me and I him," said Parks. "So, I encourage you to get a service dog and stick with him or her."
Parks said that just like any relationship, there's a settling in period upon getting a dog. There's a lot of stress because now you can't just worry about yourself and your surroundings. Now you'll have to worry about a companion that's going to be with you at all times.
"But, once you figure out how to live, work and travel with your service dog, you wonder how you lived life without him/her," said Parks. "Freedom and I have had our ups and downs, but I wouldn't trade him for the world.
With a laugh, Parks said that no matter how stupid or how alone he may feel Freedom is the only thing in this world that's always there, showing him unconditional love.
Shannon Collins, a Department of Defense writer, contributed to this story.
Read about the 2017 Warrior Games Wrap Up here