Flying Matters: Schubach Aviation Teams with Shelter to Soldier

** Shelter to Soldier Founder Graham Bloem
trains service dog, Ty, to navigate aircraft
stairs with his owner, Corporal James
Norvell, as volunteers look on.**

It's often said that man knows no greater depth of friendship and loyalty than that of a dog. It was an affinity for dogs that brought together Schubach Aviation and Shelter to Soldier.

Henry Schubach, president of Schubach Aviation, was getting ready to go to work one morning when he heard a news teaser about Shelter to Soldier, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping combat veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) find true independence through the love of a trained rescue dog.

The Department of Veterans Affairs had just cut funding for service dogs for veterans, stating it would only pay for service dogs that aid veterans with "visual, hearing, or mobility impairments." Shelter to Soldier's mission was in jeopardy unless it could obtain funding from individuals or private companies.

"When I heard this, I was compelled to act," Schubach said. "I'm a dog lover. And here was an opportunity to support not just one but two causes that are important to our company: dogs and veterans."

Shortly thereafter, Schubach met with Graham Bloem, founder of Shelter to Soldier, to let him know he wanted to help.

At the time, Bloem was in the process of training Ty, a stunning Golden Retriever/Great Pyrenees mix, who was being prepped to become a certified companion service dog for Corporal James Norvell, a combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan. His injury had caused loss of hearing in his right ear, light sensitivity, migraine headaches, insomnia, and hypervigilence. Ty's personality was well suited for calming Norvell's anxiety, giving him confidence in public, and "watching his six." Ty has protective instincts, and would also help Norvell feel that his wife and two children are safe.

One of the many important jobs of a companion service dog is to accompany his or her owner on plane trips. Schubach Aviation was the perfect venue for Bloem and his volunteers to work together with Ty and Corporal Norvell to train Ty to navigate aircraft steps, back into window bays and calmly lie down at Norvell's feet during travel. Ty passed all his training with flying colors and went home to live with Norvell and his family in late May.

Bloem trains Ty how to back into a window bay when accompanying Norvell on plane trips.|

In January, Schubach Aviation kicked off a yearlong "One Cent Per Mile" campaign whereby the company donates one cent for every mile flown by its fleet of 12 private aircraft through December. Based on current mileage trends, the company expects to raise around $12,000. Schubach is also giving its customers the option of matching the company's donation.

Schubach Aviation also partners with Shelter to Soldier to host fundraising events. Last month, Ranch & Coast, known as San Diego's ultimate lifestyle magazine, celebrated its "Readers' Choice Best of San Diego 2013" with an exclusive party held at Schubach Aviation's 40,000-square-foot hanger at Palomar Airport, with all proceeds benefiting Shelter to Soldier. Through a live auction, silent auction, an opportunity drawing and ticket sales, the event raised more than $16,000.

"We were immensely honored to have been the beneficiary of such an incredible event, and to have had the opportunity to tell people about our vital mission," said Bloem. "Each year, seven million dogs enter shelters, and nearly half are euthanized. Every day, a U.S. soldier commits suicide. It's now known that one in five military personnel returning from Iraq or Afghanistan has PTSD, putting them at high risk for suicide. Shelter to Soldier is helping to save lives, two at a time."

During the most recent fundraising event, the company donated a round-trip for four to Santa Barbara aboard one of its luxury jets.

"We're committed to doing all we can to support Shelter to Soldier not only because it benefits causes close to our heart," Schubach said. "Many of our customers are also dog lovers, and we're known as San Diego's pet friendly air charter firm. Many of our customers also have ties to the military. It makes perfect business sense for us to be supporting the organization's mission."

In our Flying Matters series, we focus on the great work being done by aviation-related non-profits and charitable organizations. To help contribute to our series with your organization, please contact us at


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