Veterans

Veteran helps raise awareness for service dogs with TODAY puppy pin

Andrew Dale started making patriotic pins as a hobby in 1999. But after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, that "hobby" quickly turned into a full-fledged business for the former Marine.

"While I was down at the World Trade Center, it was sort of a different world," he told TODAY. "The attack affected my life dramatically but it also affected the business dramatically — people wanted to show their pride and patriotism. It had gone from a business just trekking along to something I didn’t foresee."

And that's when The Pin People took off.

Andrew Dale
Andrew Dale, stationed at the World Trade Center in New York

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Dale, who is also a retired police officer, was discharged from the military as a service-connected disabled veteran in 2004. A portion of his unit who served on Sept. 11, 2001 was also discharged and declared U.S. disabled veterans.

Members of the unit endured raging bodily infections, asthma and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other illnesses, following 9/11. So Dale, 42, takes great pride in producing a product that recognizes the hard work of veterans.

"Oftentimes vets are sort of forgotten," he said. "They get deployed, sent wherever and eventually come home. People just tend to forget. I don't believe we should ever forget anyone who has served this country."

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So when Americas VetDogs contacted Dale about creating pins for their organization, it seemed like a natural fit. The nonprofit organization strives to support veterans and first responders by pairing them with dogs that can offer both physical and emotional support.

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"I couldn't think of a better organization to get involved with," said Dale. "I couldn’t be more excited to help support their organization and their cause."

RELATED: How service dogs help veterans with PTSD heal, embrace life again

The pins are available both online and in the NBC Experience Store. And to make the $10 deal even sweeter, all proceeds go to charity.

"Our part is just a little — but if everybody does just a little, it becomes a whole lot," said Dale.

Looking to help out? Meet Charlie in person and pick up a pin in the The Shop at NBC Studios on Feb. 1 at 9 a.m.!

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