Scroll to bottom for video of Spangler, Trainor Jr. and their canine companions.
Dan Spangler and Joe Trainor Jr., veterans of the Iraq War and Afghanistan War, respectively, swear by the healing power of dogs.
"I don't know where I would be without the companionship that my dog Spanky gave me when I came home from Iraq," Spangler, a sergeant in the Marine Corps, said in a press release. "Spanky saved me."
Spangler adopted Spanky, a Norwegian duck tolling-retriever mix, after returning from Iraq in 2003. The dog, he said, "saved my life."
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Trainor Jr. echoes that sentiment. The former Army Ranger sustained traumatic brain injuries while serving in Afghanistan, and says he is going blind. He also has post-traumatic stress disorder. After returning to civilian life, Trainor fell into a deep depression, and ended up contemplating suicide. Around that time, he says, a dog jumped into his lap, staring at him with compassion and love -- which he credits with changing his mindset, and saving his life.
"As soon as I heard what Dan is doing, I knew I wanted to join in," said Trainor, whose canine companion, C.T., is a pitbull-bulldog mix.
Joe and Dan are on a 6,000-mile-plus, round-trip journey -- from Camp Lejeune, N.C., to Camp Pendleton, Calif. -- to raise awareness and money for "Operation: Keep Your Spanky", a program started by Spangler to provide financial assistance to military families and veteran pet owners during financial hardship. The two want to make sure no military personnel or veteran loses a dog because of lack of money.
"I want all veterans to have a Spanky, but it's a sad fact that military veterans often experience financial difficulties where they face the heartbreaking choice of giving up their pets," Dan says.
Spangler and Trainor are relying completely on donations for their cross-country trip, which so far has included stops in Myrtle Beach, Parris Island and Atlanta. They plan to be in Birmingham by Wednesday night.
Donations can be made through their website, keepyourspanky.org. Make sure to scroll down to the red banner, "Volunteer Here." After you submit your information, either Dan or Joe will contact you with ways you can make "Operation: Keep Your Spanky" a success.
Follow videojournalist Josh Mitelman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Josh.