A decorated Marine in Olathe, Kansas retired on February 23rd accompanied by a service dog which was donated to him by a non-profit organization.
Marine Gunnery Sergeant Robert Cale completed seven combat tours and survived three IED explosions during that time. Now, he is receiving crucial support in the form of a service dog, thanks to an Olathe-based organization helping veterans.
Friends In Service of Heroes (or FISH) is a local non-profit organization which donated a service dog named Rusty to Cale.
Cale was initially shocked, but ecstatic. He had been wanting a service dog to help him. He reports that he and Rusty bonded well, and he was very happy with the dog right away.
Cale retired after serving in the Marines for 20 years. There, he earned a Purple Heart and a Medal of Valor. He was stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego until his retirement.
Rusty helps Cale through his PTSD, along with a traumatic brain injury which leaves him forced to reintegrate into civilian society.
Cale says Rusty is like an extended family member, who is with him all the time. He says Rusty connects to him, and assists him through life.
Michael Sligh (a former Army Captain) is a disabled veteran who now owns Signature Canine Training and works with FISH to train the service dogs. He states that service dogs are invaluable to veterans, as they are capable of giving the love and understanding which veterans need but can’t commonly get from humans.
Sligh has done extensive training with Rusty. His secret to this successful outcome was to create an unbreakable bond between Rusty and Cale. He also finds that when the veterans are learning to take care of their service dogs, they in effect are learning to look after themselves as well.
The retirement event took place on February 23rd, and Rusty was invited along for the ceremony.
FISH sent the Marine off with a great cake, an awesome sword, and an amazing new companion.
Cale reports that Rusty is very attentive and well-trained. He is excited to begin the next chapter of his life with his service pup along for the ride. He even said he views Rusty as his canine soulmate!
This is a wonderful service for veterans. Service dogs are invaluable to the many members of the military who come back with trauma, PTSD, and injuries.
But because they require months of training, service dogs can be very expensive – the estimated cost to raise and train them is around $20,000. So, not every veteran who needs a service animal can receive one.
Cale received this generous donation because his mother submitted his name to FISH for consideration. If you know a veteran who would benefit from having a service animal, please contact FISH and let them know!