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Army veteran and man's best friend unite at NFL game

A U.S. Army veteran named Rodney receives Maggie, a yellow Labrador retriever service dog, on Nov. 26, 2017, during the first half of an NFL football game between the New York Jets and the Carolina Panthers in East Rutherford, N.J.

BILL KOSTROUN/AP

By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: December 1, 2017

A U.S. Army veteran left a football game with a new best friend.

The New York Jets partnered with America's VetDogs to present a veteran named Rodney with a service dog during the first half of their game against the Carolina Panthers last Sunday as part of the team's "Salute to Service" events.

Maggie, a yellow Labrador Retriever, greeted Rodney — who asked that his last name be held for privacy reasons — in an end zone to lots of cheers from the crowd at MetLife Stadium. The former soldier, who was a Sergeant First Class and has various military commendations including a Bronze Star, spent a few moments petting Maggie before walking off the field with her.

The Jets donated $25,000 to co-sponsor Maggie, who was raised and trained by America's VetDogs to help veterans deal with the effects of combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder. According to a release issued by the team, Maggie has specific skills, such as being able to turn lights off and on, provide nightmare interruption retrieval, and give comfort in social situations.

Service dogs cost more than $50,000 to be raised and trained over a two-year period, and then matched with a military veteran who has disabilities. The Smithtown, New York-based America's VetDogs provides its services at no cost through contributions from various sources.

Rodney's home was prepared for Maggie's arrival by Island Federal Credit Union. Long Island Cares will supply the service dog with a year of specialized food, and VCA Sunrise Veterinary Group will provide complimentary wellness visits.
 

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