Justin Lansford and his longtime girlfriend Carol Balmes were recently married in Largo, Florida. These high school sweethearts had a beautiful wedding ceremony, but it was the best man who was making headlines.
The best man at Justin’s wedding was a special Golden Retriever named Gabe. Gabe was Justin’s service dog, and the two were paired through the Warrior Canine Connection, which provides support dogs to wounded veterans to help them get through their daily life and treat PTSD.
While deployed overseas in Afghanistan, Lansford’s truck was struck by an IED. The explosive detonated, causing the vehicle to flip over multiple times. The injuries were severe enough where doctors were forced to amputate Lansford’s left leg.
“I was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division and we were in eastern Afghanistan in early 2012,” Justin told ABC. “We struck an IED and it flipped my truck completely. I had bilaterally severed femurs which resulted in the amputation of my left leg.”
While recovering back home, he was paired with a four-legged companion who would change his life forever.
Gabe has since given Lansford the confidence to persevere through life. With Gabe by his side, Lansford feels like he can accomplish anything.
“He helps me with one thing to the next. I can use him as a stable surface to lean on, as I get to and from the ground,” Lansford says. “If I fall, he’ll come up running next to me and I can use him to push off of to get up off the ground.”
See more of Justin and Gabe’s story in the video below.
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