Two veterans are on a journey raising money for military families and vets who are pet owners
The four of them were strangers a few weeks ago.
“I had heard that a Marine was walking across the country in 30 days for a dog that had saved his life, and I said, ‘I’m in,'” said Joe Trainor Jr.
They did have something in common – two dogs, Spanky and C.T.
Marine vet Dan Spangler’s 2003 return home from Iraq, injured physically and mentally, would be a test of his will to live.
“Spanky is the one that saved my life,” Spangler said. “At the time, I didn’t realize it. He was the one that was there every time I’d wake up at night or anytime I wanted to hang out with somebody and needed to talk and couldn’t talk about what we did or what happened, Spanky was there to listen.”
Trainor, an Army Ranger veteran, says his story began right after Sept. 11, 2001.
“A month and a half later I found myself hooked up to a C130,” Trainor said.
And soon after, he says, he was right in the middle of a historical mission.
“I was the very first person on the first objective on the first mission on the war on terrorism,” he said.
Two combat tours and a traumatic brain injury later, Trainor also discovered healing through an animal.
He said, “Because a dog had saved my life four years ago when I had contemplated suicide for the very first time.”
Today the two are on a journey, Operation: Keep Your Spanky, that will take them from Camp Lejune, North Carolina to Camp Pendleton, California.
“We’re going to provide food and low-cost veterinary care to veterans and military families that are struggling financially so that they can keep their pets with the vets,” says Spangler.
It may not be war, but Spangler who began this mission, says it is a matter of life or death.
“Things like dogs and cats and other animals have shown huge advances in keeping veterans alive.”