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'A Reflection of God's Unconditional Love': How a Service Dog Changed This Army Veteran's Life

11-20-2018
Toby Yarbrough
Toby Yarbrough
Retired Army Sergeant Toby Yarbrough's life was altered dramatically when he was severely wounded during a deployment in 2002 – but his faith in God, and a four-legged friend, changed everything.
 
Yarborough's 20-year military career came to a crashing halt when he was deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom following the September 11 terror attacks.
 
"In January 2002, I was on a mission to recover a front end loader and during the process, it flipped and it pinned me down," Yarbrough told CBN News.
 
The veteran broke his back in three places and suffered a major traumatic brain injury that caused him to lose his short term memory.
 
German doctors told Yarbrough he would never walk again, but he said that throughout the recovery process he relied on his faith in God.
 
"Through multiple surgeries and a lot of physical therapy, I went from a wheel chair to a walker to walking with a cane," Yarbrough said. "I just left it in God's hands. I said, 'This is your journey, God.'"
 
After medically retiring in 2004, Yarbrough made it home but was struggling to overcome PTSD and seizures. Then, he got a service dog that changed everything.
 
Yarbrough wrote about his journey in his book, "The Quiet Healing," and now a team of three filmmakers are taking that story and turning it into a documentary.
 
The film's director, Andrew Lauto, told CBN News the project is meant to highlight the amazing relationship between Yarbrough and his two service dogs – Duke and Sasha – and hopefully change the lives of veterans across the country.
 
"Just hearing Toby's story and how his life is changed, and listening to the facts about how services dogs can dramatically change the suicide rates in our military and improve the quality of life of these veterans, I'm just glad I got to help share his story," Lauto said.
 
He continued, "I just really hope people see the importance of these things we're trying to bring into light because, through this, not only have Duke and Sasha saved Toby's life physically, but I think they've brought him closer to God as well because I think they are a reflection of God's unconditional love for us."
 
The film's editor Jacob Woodward said it helps personalize the struggles and sacrifices made by our military daily.
 
"We always hear about how great our veterans are and the sacrifice they give for us, and that's a true statement, but it's so broad that it doesn't become personal until you actually get to spend time with somebody who's gone through all of it," Woodward said.
 
Cinematographer Dave Alegre said Yarbrough's story is the perfect example of the unexpected blessings God places in our lives.
 
"I didn't know at first that Toby didn't want a service dog, and it's just amazing how he found out that it ended up being a blessing," Alegre said. "And sometimes in our lives we don't know what's a blessing until we experience it."
 
The team has created a GoFundMe to help raise money for extra expenses that have gone into putting the film together.
 
The movie is premiering during a Charity Red Carpet Event at Regent University's Main theatre in Virginia Beach on January 19th, 2019. Tickets are on sale now.
 
The team says any additional donations will go to a local nonprofit called "Heal The Warriors" which helps injured veterans with traumatic brain injuries.
 
To watch the full interview with Yarbrough and his team, watch the CBN News Channel's episode of "On the Homefront" on Tuesday November 27th at 7:30am, 9:30am, or 1:30pm.

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