February 2015, good friend of mine, Frederick Maguire, lost his battle with PTSD. Maguire and I served in the same unit together in Iraq back in 2007-2008. Days after learning about his passing I also learned about the frustrating the family was having with the Army and VA in regards to benefits. As the result of suicide the veteran loses all benefits – from the military and Veterans’ Affairs. After seeing the family struggling; there was an attempt to raise funds through a GoFundMe and signs of frustration online. I offered to try to be of some assistance.
Learning Magurie’s next of kin was his 17 year old son, I felt for him. I know as a veteran myself it can be extremely difficult sometimes battling the military and the VA for services or benefits. I couldn’t event imagine just losing your father and trying to get him his benefits he owned. After many sleepless nights, and days that just seemed to drag his son Cody and I were able to make everything work. Spc. Maguire was heading from Oklahoma back to Massachusetts to be united with family and to have his services with military honors.
When Spc. Maguire, Cody and his mother arrived to Boston they were greeted at the airport by myself who was accompanied by Massachusetts State Police and Massachusetts Envirmental Police. Due to a mandatory statewide training exercise for Mass. State Police, Mass. Envirmental Police covered down and provided an escort from the airport to Holbrook, Massachusetts.
In addition to getting his dog home, Magurie’s son Cody also wanted his father’s dog TJ, ‘TJ stands for Tomorrow’s Jesus’. TJ arrived to Boston roughly about a week after the Magurie’s services and was greeted by Mocha.
After Maguries’ passing and I wanted to do something to honor him and also do something to help other veterans who were battling some of the same struggles that he was. Learning about strong love and passion for dogs an idea can to my mind, ‘Why not have a service dog named in his honor to help a veteran with PTSD.’
With that came a post on Facebook mentioning how I would like to honor my friend. A family who I am very close with reached out to me and told me they would love to help. The Plante family, who lost family member a few years ago, Stephen Plante. Stephen was a great man, a great father and a great husband. His wife, Bethany Plante, offered to cover the cost of the service dog Maguire in honor of her late husband Stephen Plante. The Stephen Plante Memorial Fund generously donated $10,000 to Operation Delta Dog in the name of Stephen Plante.
Mocha and I had the pleasure of meeting Maguire for the first time at Operation Delta Dog’s annual event ‘Walk and Wag’ in November 2015. At that time Maguire was just about finished with initial training with the trainer and has already been paired up with a Veteran, whom he will be living with soon. TJ and Service Dog Magurie look very very very similar… coincidence? I think not.
In December 2015, Service Dog was paired up with his veteran. It was truly a great Christmas gift that year. BIG THANK YOU to the Plante family for helping me honor my good friend Maguire and allowing both Maguire and Stephen’s name to carry on. RIP Maguire and RIP Stephen Plante. God bless you both – Two great men have now come together to help a veteran and a dog. This service dog now represents the legacies of two incredible men and all the people that love them!