APG Equal Opportunity specialist and Wounded Warrior Kelly Keck watches as his service dog, Libby, retrieves keys from his desk at the ATEC headquarters building. Keck received the golden retriever from Hero Dogs, a group that provides service dogs to veterans at no charge. (February 20, 2013)

A Wounded Warrior and employee with the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) here recently got a new best friend, courtesy of Hero Dogs, a Maryland charity that provides service dogs to injured or disabled veterans.

Kelly Keck, an equal employment opportunity specialist in ATEC's EEO Office, and Lady Liberty recently met when representatives from the charity introduced him to the 3-year-old golden retriever, called "Libby" for short.

Keck and Libby are still in training but warmed to each other enough to begin spending 24 hours a day in each other's company, organizers said.

The service dogs, known as Hero Dogs, enhance warriors' lives by retrieving items, turning on lights, opening doors and various other tasks. Hero Dogs also help calm the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, according to Keck.


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He said when Libby senses his agitation, she places her head on his knee and applies pressure in a "Don't worry, I'm here" kind of way.

"She settles me down," Keck said.

He also said the greatest advantage is that Libby can bring him things he needs like his wheelchair, which she pulls by a rope. And she almost eliminates the need for him to bend over and pick things up, which can cause dizziness.

"She can open and close things but the most relevant part for me is reaching for things down low or on the floor, and even going up stairs," he said.

Keck expressed his thanks to EEO supervisors who have supported his special needs requirements.

"I especially want to thank the ATEC commander, chief of staff, EEO supervisors and entire ATEC family for helping me by ensuring I have every accommodation needed to be successful in my job," he said.