Hometown Hero - James Rundberg

Purple Heart recipient
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 4:58 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - A Merryville native who fought in the Middle East credits his service dog with getting him through post-traumatic stress disorder. The Veterans of Foreign Wars #STILL SERVING campaign is honoring Army veteran James Rundberg for giving back to the community. He and his German Shepherd, Sam, do that through the Leesville group “Brothers and Sisters in Arms Dog Training.”

“I’ve met individuals who basically were living like hermits,” said Rundberg.”They wouldn’t leave their house. They would stay secluded. They would only shop in the middle of the night because they didn’t want to be around people. They didn’t like to be around people. Because of their service dog, they live their life now.”

James and his service dog Sam
James and his service dog Sam(James Rundberg)

A 22-year veteran of 3 tours of duty in Iraq and Kuwait, Rundberg is a Purple Heart recipient and because of his P-T-S-D, depends on Sam throughout the day.

“They’re so in tune with you with knowing there’s an issue, knowing you have a problem. They react. Whether it’s just coming up in a hand nuzzle or nose nuzzle, or pulling you out of a store because you just froze up in a store and it’s just getting too chaotic.”

Sadly, James will be getting another service dog soon.

“I’ve had to retire Sam. He has a disease called degenerative myelopathy, which attacks his spinal cord.”

Rundberg says he’ll continue to give back because others helped him, when he needed it. He is currently commander of the VFW in Jasper, TX and is active with another organization that provides hunting and fishing trips for Purple Heart recipients.