Brian Pearce didn’t plan on a military career. When he graduated high school, he joined his local sheriff’s department, but after budget cuts eliminated his position, he enlisted in the Army in 1992, and was stationed throughout the U.S. and overseas. In 2003, after a three-year service break, he reenlisted. “After 9/11, I knew that whenever I came back on active duty I would go to Iraq or Afghanistan.”
Pearce was deployed to Mosul, Iraq, in 2005. When the Army extended his brigade’s tour of duty and reassigned it to Baghdad, Pearce, who had already returned home, was redeployed. Two months later, he was injured when his Humvee ran over an IED.
“I was clinically dead when they found me, but the medics brought me back to life,” he states. Pearce suffered traumatic brain injuries, and a piece of shrapnel penetrated his skull and entangled in his optic nerves, which were further damaged during emergency surgery, leaving him with about three percent vision in one eye. He spent months in rehabilitation therapy for his injuries.
Earlier this year, Pearce was partnered with a guide dog from a CFC-O-supported charity. The dog has been specially trained to do double duty: as a guide, it helps him follow a clear path, maneuver around obstacles, and stop at curbs; as a service dog, it has been trained to perform nightmare interruption.
When he used a white cane, Pearce would keep his eyes down to see what the cane was bumping into. “With my dog, I’m able to look up again. He’s boosted my confidence 100 percent. It’s absolutely phenomenal.”