When Sgt. William Cole returned from serving his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan, he was haunted by nightmares and depression. Traditional therapy and medications failed to heal Cole, but soon a new friend, a Labrador retriever named Hank, would help Cole find peace. However, Hank soon fell victim to a car accident, leaving him with severe, life-threatening injuries.
Fortunately for Hank, he was brought to the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH), where highly trained veterinarians worked as a team to address Hank’s injuries. Early intervention and a lengthy stay in the ICU have given Hank a second chance.
In response to Hank’s story, CVM development council member Dr. Mike Moore ’79 has resurrected Eli’s Fund. Moore’s original gift to create Eli’s Fund honored Colton Rusk, of Orange Grove, Texas, and his military working dog, Eli, whose family Moore knows well through his work on behalf of wounded warriors and their families.
After Rusk’s death in active duty in 2010, Eli refused to work or even move from Rusk’s cot at their base, so he was released to retire in Orange Grove with Rusk’s family. At that time, Eli was only the second dog in United States history to be granted this honor. The Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation (TVMF) has pledged to cover all of Eli’s veterinary care for the rest of his life.
Eli’s Fund is a source of financial support for active duty service men and women, medically retired veterans’ service animals, and retired military animals with veterinary medical bills at the VMTH.
To be considered for Eli’s Fund assistance, pets must be:
- Owned by an active duty service man or woman
- A medically retired veteran’s service animal
- A retired military dog
Treatment must be performed at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.
In appreciation of the support he received from the college and animal lovers everywhere, Cole will be donating a portion of the money he raised on Hank’s behalf to Eli’s Fund so that other veterans and military personnel will be able to care for the animals that mean so much to them. With a contribution to Eli’s Fund, you too have the opportunity to help active duty service men and women, veterans, and retired military animals. Animals play a special role in the lives of their owners, and continued support will ensure that animals in need and their owners will have access to life-saving care.