Freeing People to Live Full Lives

Have you ever reached a point in your life where you felt something was missing? Like you had a missing link?

Brendan Tyma grew up in Connecticut. He went through school in the south end of the state and along the way found he was interested in computers and graphics. In 2010 Brendan joined the US Army and was stationed in South Korea. At first he was a motor transport operator, but over time his computer knowledge became evident and he made his way to the communications and IT shop where he really felt comfortable.

Things changed completely for Brendan in the summer of 2011 when he was the victim of an assault that left him with multiple fractures of his eye socket and a medical discharge from the Army in 2012. Declared legally blind in 2014, Brendan has seen 28 doctors over the past few years and still has an unknown diagnosis as to the cause of his vision loss. It’s unclear whether the issue is actually with his eyes or his brain communicating with them.

Brendan had to learn mobility with a cane, which aided him in going places without walking into things in his path. At the beginning he thought that would be sufficient and he really didn’t think that he wanted to get a guide dog ~ but attending a program at the West Haven VA Hospital in Connecticut changed that! There Brendan met Chris Paiser, a client of Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind. Chris and Freedom guide dog Ike changed his mind about guide dogs, and he contacted Freedom in early 2015.

Life was already full. Brendan and wife Amanda had two small children, and he was going to school to learn how to design video games. His hope is to work designing video games to be more user friendly for the visually impaired.

With limited vision Brendan stayed in familiar surroundings and began going out less; the social part of his life was missing. “I had become a hermit,” Brendan said. “I stayed in and had a lot of anxiety going anywhere.”

Enter the missing link!

Link is a black Labrador retriever from Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind that became Brendan’s partner in the fall. “Link is such a great tempered dog,” Brendan commented. “He was amazing when we recently flew to Washington, DC. He gets me out, I can move with ease and he helps with my anxiety, too.”

Link’s great temperament won over Brendan’s sons, who were  nervous at first. Link now gets buried in covers, used as a pillow and climbed on when he’s not working. Brendan says, “He’s so sweet with the kids!” When home relaxing Link fits right in and is a true member of the family.

With the newfound mobility and independence that Freedom guide dog Link provides, Brendan is moving forward with his life. It is certainly full with his wife, two young and active boys, school, moving soon to a new home, and the addition of Link to the mix. And we know with Link’s help it can only get better!

To donate to Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind, follow the link provided and click on Add to My Donation Basket, or use the code 700300 on your paper pledge form.

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