FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Specialist Brent Grommet is fighting a different kind of battle these days. Back from Afghanistan, he’s coping with and recovering from spinal and traumatic brain injuries and PTSD.
But it seems his own progress is taking a backseat to another mission. Grommet is trying to get his dog back, according to WTVD-TV.
The 23-year-old soldier is assigned to the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, but his focus has been on the Fort Bragg area where he’s been told his combat buddy, a young German Shepard named Matty, now lives. The challenge is now to convince Matty’s adopted family to return him to the first friend he ever knew.
“They’re not dog and handler, they’re brothers,” said Don Grommet, the soldier’s father.
Specialist Grommet and Matty were paired in the fall of 2012 as a part of the Tactical Explosive Detector Dog program. After graduating from TEDD in November of that year, the pair deployed to Afghanistan where they were injured in two separate IED attacks.
When the pair returned from deployment in July of 2013, Matty was whisked away from a New Jersey Air Force Base, and Grommet returned to Ft. Campbell to prepare for medical retirement due to spinal and brain trauma injuries, as well as PTSD.
“When you lose a dog it’s really hard, but after you’ve been through everything with that dog, and you come back and you’re told ‘Okay, you got ten minutes to say goodbye to your dog and then we’re taking him?’ It’s a very rough place to be left off on,” said Spc. Grommet.
Don Grommet was able to track Matty to Fort Bragg, where Vet Services was treating the K9 for a torn ACL, and preparing him for separation from service and adoption. The Grommets said they submitted and re-submitted adoption paperwork, and were told the first set of documents were lost.
“We were told several times not to worry about it; that everyone knew that Brent was going to adopt Matty” said Don Grommet.
But after months of weekly calls to check on the adoption status, Grommet said his son received a call in March 2014 telling him Matty had been adopted.
“It’s not the soldier’s fault, and the soldier shouldn’t be punished,” he said “But the only one being punished here is the soldier and the dog.”
The Grommets said they had a military contact track Matty’s adoption to a civilian in the Fort Bragg area. They said they were told the man had strong ties to the TEDD program, and was unwilling to give up Matty because he was too attached after a few weeks.
“I’d be willing to buy the dog off of him, get a new dog for him….Whatever it would take to get Matty back,” said Specialist Grommet.
“I’d like to think that people will do the right thing when it comes down to it,” his father said. “I do have times when I doubt that this is ever going to happen. I know my son has doubts that this is ever going happen.”
“I probably will not give up on this until the day I die,” said the father, who has reached out to the White House, Congressmen, and military representatives on this search.
“My son needs that dog for his healing.”
Specialist Grommet, who tattooed Matty’s service number V053 in he dog’s ear, hopes the new owner will have a change of heart when he or his family and friends hear the soldier’s plea.
“Veterans of war can call up their battle buddies and talk and help each other. Lifelong friendships have been formed in fox holes,” he writes in a public letter. “Matty and I was continually moving from unit to unit, I didn’t get human companionship, mine was canine. Matty was my constant. It is for this reason that I am requesting your help in order to try and get Matty back. This would mean the world to me.”
Grommet can be contacted through Facebook at www.facebook.com/brent.grommet.