Iraq veteran travels abroad with help of MU

The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Veterans United Home Loans and Trulaske College of Business helped to finance the trip.

Army veteran Robert Canine received the chance to study abroad with the help of the Trulaske College of Business and Veterans United Home Loans two years after he was injured in Iraq.

Canine, now a sophomore at MU, had both of his legs amputated below the knee when an explosive hit his vehicle while returning from patrol in Iraq. With the help of prosthetic legs, Canine is able to walk.

He approached Stephen Ferris, the trip’s organizer and a professor of finance in the Trulaske College of Business to see if it was possible for him to participate in the trip to Germany and the Netherlands from Dec. 28 to Jan. 11.

“I had to check to see how strenuous the activities during the trip would be,” Canine said. “I didn’t know how much walking we would do or if we would be walking through factories. I can walk, but I can only walk for so far and only for 12 to 16 hours.”

Ferris, a 23-year Navy veteran himself, was eager for Canine to try to go on the trip.

“(Canine) saw the program was available and approached me to ask if it was possible for him to go on the trip,” Ferris said. “I told him it was possible and that he should apply. There would be a cost to it and adjustments to go abroad with his situation, but it was possible.”

Canine said he wanted to go on the trip to see how different countries ran business. Because the trip is only two weeks long, Canine said it will not put a large strain on his family.

“Since I am in the business college I will be able to witness a world economy,” Canine said. “It is a great time to go with the economic crisis in Europe, and since we live in a global economy, what happens in Europe also happens in the United States."

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid for Canine’s tuition abroad. That still left the roadblock of $4,000 to cover lodging, airfare and food.

“I went back to talk to Professor Ferris and told him that at this point it was a no (to go on the trip),” Canine said. “I did not have $4,000 that I could just spend on a trip. (Ferris) then told me that he would try to find a way for me to go. That is when he went to the Veterans United Home Loans in Columbia, and I got an email from professor Ferris telling me that he found me a sponsor.”

With the help of the faculty at the Trulaske College of Business, Canine received $3,000 from the Columbia-based Veterans United Home Loans and also received $750 from the Study Abroad office at the Business school.

For Ferris, the determination to help Canine comes from a sincere level of respect for him and all he has sacrificed for the U.S.

“I am one of the few faculty members that are military, so I am sympathetic to those who are veterans,” Ferris said. “I thought that he was a true hero for our country and an inspiration for our country. He wanted to go. He showed value in the program. He presented himself well, and he was ambitious."

Canine would also have a better chance to do well in the business world with study abroad experience, Ferris said.

"This opportunity allows him to go abroad and learn about international business, and that is going to make him a better candidate in the business world," Ferris said. "He has a tough transition to make to civilian life, and the university can help with that transition.”

Ferris also said he believes Canine is an inspiration for other students who believe they can't study abroad because of personal circumstances.

“It was first an inspiration that he wanted to do (study abroad),” Ferris said. “His actions are going to be an inspiration to other students, and I think it is going to be apparent when he goes abroad, and he carries his own briefcase and walks through the snow and uses the subway. His actions are going to show how inspirational he is.”

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