You can’t keep your gun.

Grenades, knives, bombs, other tools of war – you can’t keep those either. When you leave the military, no matter who you are or what you sacrificed, your boots are yours but your tools belong to the government.

And it is that seemingly reasonable rule that caused Trevor Maroshek so much pain.

What if your weapon, the one you trained with for years, the one that never left your side, the one that saved your life, what if your weapon curled up next to you at the end of a long day?

What if your weapon was your dog?

Maroshek, now 38, a Navy SEAL from San Clemente, wrote letters as he prepared for retirement in 2011, asking permission up the chain of Navy command to keep Chopper, a jet black German Shepherd who helped kill Taliban combatants, injured his back jumping out of a helicopter and took shrapnel in his left eye. Chopper had become his companion, his lifeline, his calming influence.

For a year and a half, Maroshek fought the bureaucracy and was told no.

“It was like someone said you can’t keep your kid,” said Maroshek, who became a civilian on Jan. 1, 2012.