- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A wounded veteran and his service dog were finally able to head home Monday night after American Airlines initially refused to let them board a plane together.

Marine Corps Capt. Jason Haag and his dog Axel had flown American Airlines from Fredericksburg, Virginia, to Los Angles on Thursday for the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards — where Axel had been recognized as the National Service Dog of the Year, a local ABC affiliate reported.

But on Sunday, Capt. Haag says the same airline didn’t let them fly back.

“It was extremely upsetting,” he told ABC. “It was disrespectful. If I wasn’t as far along in my recovery from PTSD, this would have set me back years. It would have put me back in my basement were I was three years ago.”

The marine served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. A bullet to the leg earned him a Purple Heart. An IED explosion left him with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury, ABC reported.

In 2014, he told “The Today Show” that there’s “no doubt in my mind that if it wasn’t for Axel, I’d be 6 feet underground now,” The Daily Caller reported.

Mr. Haag said American Airlines wouldn’t allow him on the plane with Axel without the correct paperwork — even though he had flown that airline to get to Los Angeles. American Airlines’ policy clearly states, “Service animals are welcome on all flights,” ABC reported.

“What do I want? We’d love an apology,” the marine said.

Minutes after that statement, ABC received an apology from American Airlines’ Victoria Lupica: “We apologize to both Captain Haag and his family for the confusion with the travel plans, yesterday. Thank you, Captain Haag, for your service to your country. We are extremely proud to fly you, Axel and your family.”

Capt. Haag was scheduled to land at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, Monday night.

He said this issue brings to light the need for a national service dog database, ABC reported.

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