We salute Ricochet, the badass therapy dog that surfs with wounded veterans

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VIDEO: Surfing Therapy Dog & Two Combat Veterans Inspire Others To Heal

While the news may be abuzz with stories about Conan, the hero dog on the Delta Force raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, there's another canine who's been quietly serving behind the scenes: Ricochet.


Or, if you want to use her social media handle: Surf Dog Ricochet.

In addition to being a champion surf dog — and how have I gone my whole life not realizing that's a thing — the 11-year-old Golden Retriever is a certified therapy dog who assists individuals with physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities, as part of the nonprofit Puppy Prodigies, in San Diego. And recently, Ricochet has taken to working with wounded veterans, both as a support dog, and as, well, a bit of a surfing coach.

Jose Martinez and Ricochet out on the water.(SurfDogRicochet)

This summer, Ricochet and Judy Fridono, her guardian and the organization's executive director, met up with Jose Martinez, who served three years in the Army until an improvised explosive device strike in March 2012 left him in a coma for 10 days, and cost him both his legs and his right arm.

"It was difficult, after my accident I was very angry," Martinez said in a video interview on Surf Dog Ricochet's YouTube page. "I felt like at every single thing I was doing I was a failure. I went to war and I failed at that as well."

In 2009 Ricochet hopped on the surfboard of a 14-year-old adaptive surfer, becoming the world's first canine-assisted surf therapy and adaptive surfing dog. Since then, she has worked with hundreds of kids with special needs, people with disabilities, and wounded veterans.

"So when I first got the chance to surf it was a whole different world. It changed my perspective and I kept going, said Martinez, who surfs competitively and hopes to make it to the Olympic's and represent the U.S. in Adaptive Surfing one day. "I want people to know and understand that anything is possible. I'm a triple amputee — I was told that I'd never walk again in my life; I walk, plus I surf, plus I swim, plus I do archery, you know? Just keep trying."

Of his time with Ricochet, Martinez said in the video that "there's this unified connection that we have with each other. It's pretty awesome having a one-on-one connection, where you're not speaking with each other, but this energy that we're sharing with each other, I definitely feel like I can communicate with her."



U.S. Army Rangers resting in the vicinity of Pointe du Hoc, which they assaulted in support of "Omaha" Beach landings on "D-Day," June 6, 1944. (Public domain)

Editor's Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

For one veteran who fought through the crossfires of German heavy machine guns in the D-Day landings, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of his service and that of his World War II comrades would be "quite meaningful."

Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to award the Army Rangers of World War II the medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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(Associated Press photo)

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.

Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.

Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."

"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.

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On a military base, a black flag is bad news. That means it's too hot outside to do anything strenuous, so training and missions are put off until conditions improve.

As the climate changes, there could be plenty more black flag days ahead, especially in Florida, a new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists found. America's military bases could see an average of an extra month of dangerously hot days by mid-century. In Florida, they could quadruple.

Pentagon data shows heat-related illnesses and injuries are on the rise in every branch of the military. Last year, nearly 2,800 troops suffered heatstroke or heat exhaustion, a roughly 50 percent jump from 2014.

"I think most of us, if we hear there are tens of thousands of cases of heat stress in our troops every year, our minds would go to where they were deployed," said Kristy Dahl, a senior climate scientist at UCS and the lead author of the study. "But more than 90% of the military cases of heatstroke happened right here at home."

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In this March 12, 2016, file photo, Marines of the U.S., left, and South Korea, wearing blue headbands on their helmets, take positions after landing on a beach during the joint military combined amphibious exercise, called Ssangyong, part of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea. (Associated Press/Yonhap/Kim Jun-bum)

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.

The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.

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An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.

This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.

Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."

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