U.S. Airways has been forced to apologize to an Iraq veteran from Williamston, Michigan, for the way one of its flight attendants treated him and his service dog on a recent flight from Florida to Detroit. And the whole episode is somewhat surreal.
Ex-Marine Eric Calley serving two tours of duty in Iraq and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To help him cope with his condition, his constant companion these days is a specially trained Doberman Pinscher called Sun. She goes everywhere with him, including on the December 7 flight to Detroit.
Calley was sitting in his coach seat when a flight attendant from first class walked back and repeatedly yelled at him because Sun had put her front paws on the empty seat next to him during some turbulence. He was apparently so rude that several passengers got involved and some have filed complaints when the plane landed. Chuck Aaron of Charlotte, Michigan, who also served in Iraq and was sitting behind Calley, told The Lansing State Journal:
It was blatant disrespect. I couldn’t just sit there and not say something. He [the flight attendant] started telling us that he was going to have the police waiting when we landed because we were being hostile.
U.S. Airways has apologized earlier this week and has sent Calley a letter saying that “it appears our airport personnel didn’t handle the situation with the quality customer care we expect”. But Calley has said that the apology isn’t good enough and that the flight attendant’s bad behavior was just one of example of how the airline mistreated him.
1. Ex-Marine Eric Calley, from Williamston, Michigan, is angry and upset after he says he and his service dog were mistreated on a recent flight from Florida to Detroit.
2. Calley served two tours of duty in Iraq, left, and his constant companion nowadays is a Doberman Pinscher called Sun, who is specially trained to help him with his PTSD.
Calley says that airline employees twice described him to other passengers as having a medical disability and also asked him to give them proof that Sun is a service dog.
Calley, who works as an advocate of other returning veterans, has said that he is speaking out about his experience because he wants to raise awareness about the lack of recognition given to veterans with PTSD and how it is a growing problem. He said:
We are going to continue to have this huge influx of new veterans coming back.
Calley was a part of the first wave of American troops who invaded Iraq in 2003. He said that it took him several years to adjust to normal life after he left the Marines. During that time he battled alcoholism and coped with flashbacks and panic attacks, but he says Sun has rescued him. He said:
Dogs are 10 times more intuitive than humans. They pick up things way more than we do.
Sun monitors Calley’s heart rate, breathing, his muscle tension and can help calm him down by wedging her snout under his arm or jumping into his lap to put warm pressure on his chest. When Calley has a nightmare, Sun wakes him up with a nudge of her cold nose. He said:
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.
Leslie Scott, a spokeswoman for American Airlines, U.S. Airways’ parent company, wouldn’t comment on whether any disciplinary action was taken against the flight attendant.
3. U.S. Airways apologized this week but Calley isn’t happy and says his treatment is typical of the lack of recognition given to the needs of vets with PTSD.
Source: The Lansing State Journal.
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