Marine Veteran receives service dog from nonprofit

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A veteran who served as a Marine in Jacksonville made a new best friend Tuesday. But the dog that Michael Goodman received is much more than just a pet.

Cal Kaul is a golden retriever named after Army Veteran Cal Kaul who died in the line of duty in 2021. Cal Kaul was trained by a nonprofit organization named On Duty Service Dogs for Veterans.

The president and dog trainer, Sam Walker, grew up with Army Veteran Kaul. “Cal was particularly kind,” said Walker. “He was one of those young men that you would be so happy to be in the same room with. He cared about everybody.”

On Duty Service Dogs for Veterans started in 2022, a little over a year after Kaul died. Walker says this organization is a way to give back to the servicemembers who defended the country and gave their life.

“It’s something for people who I don’t even know,” said Walker. “People who have died and done something for me. It feels like a way to repay these soldiers who offered themselves for me and my safety without me having to even ask.”

Walker’s father was also a Marine for a number of years, who struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. He wasn’t diagnosed with PTSD until later in his life.

“He came home,” said Walker. “Nobody knew what post-traumatic stress disorder was. He was left to deal with that and his family to deal with that on his own. He didn’t even get a diagnosis until he was fifty.”

On Duty Service Dog for Veterans is a way for people like Michael Goodman to feel reassured and heard. Goodman waited a while for the moment to meet his new best friend, which finally happened on Tuesday.

“I am super excited that we had the opportunity to have this service dog,” said Goodman.

“Helping me break some of these habits I have,” said Goodman. “Him just being there like a companion when you’re going through anything is very important.

Goodman will stay in the Jacksonville area for a few days, and then have to continue to train Cal for another six months. Walker says the training process takes up to 2 years, and it has already been a year and a half.

Goodman’s new best friend, Cal, is the first dog trained and placed with a Veteran.