By Maj. Anthony Mayne, The 75th Ranger RegimentApril 29, 2015
FORT BENNING, Ga. (USASOC News Service, April 29, 2015) -- Former 3rd Ranger Battalion veteran Joe Trainor, Jr. along with Marine Daniel Spangler and their service dogs, C.T. and Spanky, visited the 75th Ranger Regiment Headquarters along their 30-day cross country journey to raise awareness for transitioning vet services.
Trainor, a resident of Chicago and Spangler, a Jacksonville, North Carolina resident, faced similar difficulty reintegrating into civilian life until they made the decision to adopt a dog from local pounds.
That decision set both veterans on a quest, "Operation Keep Your Spanky," to share their experiences and to educate other veterans on the healing qualities and restoration in personal confidence that dog ownership can provide.
Spangler created the Dreamer's Foundation nonprofit to assist military families facing the financial challenges of pet ownership. Whether providing aid to families to maintain their pet ownership or assisting military families finding suitable owners in the event of a move, Spangler aims to ensure that vets and pets remain linked. Spangler executed his first cross country trek to raise awareness last year.
In 2010, Trainor founded the nonprofit, "1Pet1Vet," and began the process of rescuing canines from Chicagoland pounds. Trainor and his staff then turn the pets into service dogs and provide them free of cost to transitioning service members to aid in their reintegration into local communities.
In March, Trainor initially learned of Spangler's second cross country journey while filming POW, a veteran-run, transition-focused film project. The concept was developed by former 1st Ranger Battalion veteran Marty Skovland, Jr. and features a variety of former Ranger Regiment veterans. During filming, Skovland mentioned Spangler's journey to Trainor.
Skovland and Spangler developed a relationship in 2013 at the Institute for Veteran and Military Family Entrepreneur Bootcamp sponsored by Syracuse University. The two formed a friendship that led to Spangler's first cross country trek in 2014.
Within days of learning of Spangler's 2015 efforts, Trainor signed on.
"It is a great opportunity to raise awareness," Trainor said.
"We are utilizing the existing veteran network of the Regiment and Marines to travel around the country and raise awareness for veteran transition services, specifically the role that dog ownership can play in providing a veteran the self-worth and confidence required to continue to stay strong and find their purpose," Trainor said.
The return to Fort Benning was just one of several stops at military posts planned for duo. Their trek began on April 26 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and will finish at Camp Pendleton, California, May 25. Just three days into their journey, the veterans already have established a strong civilian media and social media following.
Trainor's roots in the Ranger Regiment include assignment to Company C, 3rd Ranger Battalion and two deployments to Afghanistan. Trainor participated in the initial airborne assault into Afghanistan on Objective Rhino in 2001.
When asked what he missed most about Ranger Regiment, Trainor replied, "Everything, and every day."
"1Pet1Vet and working with Dan on Operation Keep Your Spanky allows me to continue to serve," Trainor said. "I may not be in uniform, but I continue to live by our Ranger Creed."