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Veteran Mistreated by Airline Sheds Light on the Importance of Service Dogs

In a holiday season supposed to be filled with charity and good-will, people’s experience at the airport terminals at this time of year is the exact opposite of comfort and joy. And recently, US Airways had to apologize to a veteran for the way its flight attendants treated his service dog.

Eric Calley, a Marine veteran who spent two tours in Iraq and now advocates for other returning veterans, was on a trip from Florida to Detroit when flight attendants began unnecessarily taking issue with his service dog during some turbulence. The conduct of the attendants sparked complaints from a fellow veteran on the flight, as well as others.

Calley – who is the brother of Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley – was sent an apology from US Airways because, “it appears our airport personnel didn't handle the situation with the quality customer care we expect.”

Calley’s first service dog, sadly, passed away last year. His new service dog, Sun, was made possible by a fundraiser.

"She helps me just leave the house," he said. "She helps me deal with people. Dogs are 10 times more intuitive than humans. They pick up things way more than we do. If you have a flashback, and say you're dreaming you're overseas and you wake up, you still think you're over there for a while. She helps you get out of that. She brings you back to real time."

Calley also wants people to know that there is a two-year waiting list for veterans who need service dogs, and the list is growing ever longer. But you can help.

Eric Calley works with a program called Liberty's Legacy in honor of Calley's first dog to provide more service dogs for Michigan veterans. Calley said his goal for 2015 is to bring "as many dogs as possible" to Michigan.

Liberty's Legacy works with schools to set up penny drives to raise money for veterans who are waiting for dogs. Literally, Calley says, every penny counts.

If you're interested in setting up a penny drive at your local school to sponsor a Michigan veteran, contact Lansing State Journal columnist Louise Knott Ahern, who wrote the story on Calley and his service dog, at lkahern@lsj.com. She will put you in touch with Eric Calley.

You can read the full article on the Detroit Free Press website, here:


Legal Help for Veterans members Paul Bohn and Kristina Derro have been big supporters of service dogs for veterans.  Paul is on the board of Stiggy’s Dogs in Howell, Michigan.

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