Nightly News   |  January 30, 2012

Veteran POW provides soldiers with therapy dogs

Even though he has retired from military service, Irwin Stovroff continues to act heroically, helping injured vets recover by raising millions to sponsor guide dog training. NBC’s Special Correspondent Chelsea Clinton reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> home front. consider this, over 40,000 of our returning vets have been injured in iraq and afghanistan. as we hear from our special correspondent chelsea clinton , a decorated world war ii veteran, a former p.o.w., is answering the call to help ease the way for young vets who have already given so much.

>> this is the uniforms we wore.

>> reporter: irwin stovroff has an impressive collection of medals.

>> this is a picture of my plane being shot down.

>> reporter: the world war ii hero was on his 35th bombing mission over nazi being a pied france when his plane crashed behind enemy lines .

>> they captured me immediately. this was one time i did not think i was going to make it.

>> reporter: irwin quickly threw away his dog tags which identified him as jewish and survived a year in a german p.o.w. camp. now 70 years later, the 89-year-old decorated hero is on a different mission. irwin raised $3 million to provide service dogs to wounded soldiers, including the newly wounded returning from iraq and afghanistan. he began his group "vets helping heroes," after learning there is no government program giving soldiers canine help. retired lieutenant colonel kathy champion, going blind from a mysterious virus contracted in iraq .

>> a became a hermit in my own house. i quit school and quit my job.

>> reporter: irwin raised money to give kathy her angel.

>> she granted me back the life i felt was taken away from me.

>> reporter: training these exceptional canines can cost as much as $70,000 per dog and takes 18 months beginning in the puppy stage. they look like any other love lab bor, but he is so much more than that. he is a working therapy dog , helping service men and women recover from the wounds of war. irwin sponsored brute for the west palm beach v.a. medical center .

>> when i first seen him, i fell in love with him.

>> reporter: three tours left this master sergeant with debilitating dsb. then he got larry and life dramatically improved. irwin strovoff is a true hero.

>> or you can turn it around and say i survived, life is good let me see what i can do for others.

>> reporter: that is the choice irwin strovoff, war hero , advocate for wounded warriors has made. chelsea clinton , nbc news, boca rate-on,