Meet Joseph and guide dog Gala
“After two great years at MacDill AFB, I received orders for Southeast Asia. I was to proceed to Redwood City, California for counterinsurgency training. Next, I went to Travis Air Force Base for transportation to Saigon. I went to a semi-remote site located a few miles outside the town of Ban Me Thuot in the central highlands of Vietnam. The purpose of the site was to provide air traffic control, support for bomb runs, close air support, and assist in locating downed pilots.
This duty was where the root of my vision problems started. My vision was 20/20. We were advised to take anti-malarial medication once every five to seven days while we were there, and then for three months when we rotated back to the U.S. I didn’t find out until years later that the medication was “chloroquine” and required periodic retinal checks. One of the side effects was an atrophy of the macular area. I found all of this out years later from a retinal specialist.”
After earning a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and a master’s in business administration, Joe enjoyed a successful career in the Tampa Bay area. But as his vision worsened, the VA recommended a guide dog. When Southeastern graduate and veteran Michael Jernigan visited Joe’s veterans’ group, Joe decided he was ready. Now he’s met a smart, curious, ladylike, and nearly white Labrador named Gala.
“I’m more confident with Gala,” Joe says. “I don’t like to travel—I’m a hermit—but my wife loves to travel. I may even travel more now.” Back home in Seminole, Gala will join Joe’s wife Patricia and his new “brother,” a pet German shepherd named Kimosabe. “Kimosabe means ‘faithful friend,’” Joe says, and now another faithful friend has joined the family.