Military veteran credits service dog with saving his life after suicide attempt

Dogs have a unique healing ability that humans often look to during the hardest moments of their lives. A dog's unconditional love and companionship can help guide people through dark moments and provide owners with a renewed sense of purpose.

Military veteran Andrew Einstein says his service dog, Gunner, helped save his life after a grenade blast during a mission left him with life altering injuries.

Einstein, a reservist who was working in law enforcement until he was activated, served in two tours overseas in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In August of 2011, Einstein sustained a traumatic brain injury and permanent hearing loss on his right side when a grenade exploded near him. The injuries forced Einstein to require a bow and anchored hearing aid.

Andrew returned home and went back to police work, but the physical and emotional scars of battle left him feeling hopeless and he considered death by suicide. That's when a friend stepped in and suggested that Andrew get a service dog. Einstein followed through on the suggestion and found Gunner.

"[Gunner] saved my life," Einstein said Monday morning on Good Day. "The night before I brought him home I tried to commit suicide. The next day when I brought him home he gave me purpose again and forced me to get better and seek help for the problems I was ignoring."

Andrew, a husband and father of two, says Gunner's nonjudgmental demeanor and desire to please was what helped him rebuild his life. 

"[Gunner] never judged me for how I was feeling, he just wanted to make me happy," said Einstein.

To honor Einstein and his service to the country, Phillies ambassador Mickey Morandini invited Andrew to attend the Phillies Fantasy Camp next summer in Clearwater, Florida.

Gunner, who Einstein says loves to play fetch, was also extended an invitation.

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text to 741-741.

CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support.