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Days after The Post exposed the military’s wrongful, 16-month-long separation of injured Army Spc. Brent Grommet and his war dog, Matty, the two were finally reunited on Friday.
“I’m about the happiest I’ve ever been,” Grommet, 23, told The Post.
Grommet and Matty, who specialized in detecting IEDs, were injured when one exploded near them in Afghanistan. Grommet came back with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, migraines, severe chronic back pain and breathing problems.
Under Robby’s Law — signed by Bill Clinton in 2000 — military dog handlers have the first right to adopt their animals if injured together.
Upon returning from Afghanistan in July 2013, Grommet and Matty were separated by the Army, and Grommet never saw Matty again.
“It’s like someone took your kid in front of you — and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Grommet said.
Then-Lt. Col. Richard Vargas was in charge of military dog adoptions. Despite repeated pleas from Grommet and his father, Don, Vargas refused to divulge who had Matty or to help with his return, The Post revealed last Sunday.
But a source with direct knowledge of Matty’s fate contacted The Post on Wednesday, and by Thursday, Grommet was told he could take permanent custody of Matty.
“I was speechless,” Grommet told The Post. “It took everything out of me.”
On Friday, Grommet and his parents drove 17 hours from Fort Campbell, Ky., to South Carolina, where Matty had been living since 2013. (Grommet had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to keep the identity of the South Carolina “owner” secret).
Grommet stopped about 25 feet away from Matty’s kennel, too nervous to see him. “I was a little worried he forgot me,” Grommet said.
Then he called his name.
When the kennel door opened, Matty charged.
“He jumped all over me,” Grommet said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better response. I knew then that he remembered me, and truly wanted to be with me.”
Grommet told The Post that Matty will be the best medicine for all his war injuries. “It’s very hard to be upset around him,” Grommet said. “He brings a lot of light into everything.”
By Maureen Callahan
New York Post