Where did you serve and what did you do?
I served mostly in the Green zone in Iraq. I was also involved in the deadly triangle area as well. I did a lot of security details for many different groups. I was assigned to many personal security detail for different things as well. During my downtime, I volunteered to keep watch and do a lot of personal interaction for a children’s hospital when we were in the medical city area. I served with many groups during my 2 year consecutive service time in Iraq, but was primarily attached to 11B.
Tell us how your dog is helping you continue #StillServing in your community.
Because of Brave, many places of business as well as elected officials have sought me out for information, help and advice regarding rules and regulations of service dogs and what their rights are as a business as well as the rights of individuals with service dogs. I have referred veterans to organizations to assist them in getting a service dog when the need is evident. Pre-covid times Brave and I were able to volunteer at an elementary school to mentor young children and offer extra support during lunch and recess. I have given talks about the importance of service dogs and done demonstrations at specialized schools for kids with autism as well as taking part of community helpers day for the last 4 years at a pre-school. Brave and I have met with different scouting troops to educate them on what a service dog is and what their purpose is as well as enabling me to speak a bit about my service time. Because of Brave, I have been able to serve as a Chaplin for the American Legion, the American Legion Riders and serve as Chaplin and Junior Stewart for the Masonic Temple. I also lead a small group bible study with middle school youth at my church and volunteer with toddlers on Sunday mornings. I am the Vice-President of Healing Tools for Warriors Midwest that gives support to veterans and their families in the area. I lead a peer support group called Buddy Check each month. Without Brave, non of the above would be possible for me to accomplish.
Why do you do it?
I do it because I do not want to be one of those veterans who are afraid to leave there house because they don’t know what to expect or what may or may not happen. I think every veterans that suffers from any type of PTSD should have a service dog so they can have some type of normalcy back within their own personal life. I want to be able to go out with my family. I want my daughter to see that I am not just a vet who stays close to home because it is a safe zone but go out into the world and be able to do things with her. I want other vets to see how a service dog can help support the life they would like to get back to. I want them to see that it is ok to come out of the house with a dog and be able to go and do things. Maybe even things they may once enjoyed a long time ago. Brave has helped me to be able to go back out into the community and interact with people in different stores that we may go to. Before I got my service dog, I had to wait until around 2 a.m. to be able to access going to the store and still required my wife accompanying me which meant I had to wait to go to a store even in the middle of the night until a day when she didn’t have to get up for work in the morning. Now I can go get groceries or other needs from the store any time of day. I am now able to go to concerts that are in town or different kinds of events that we maybe interested in doing. Brave helps keep my personal circle intact unless I invite you in so that I am not caught off guard by someone approaching me. Brave also lets me know when there is someone around that I may need to be mindful of their actions, or lets me know when I may need to leave a certain place or area. Brave is also bringing awareness to people that just may not understand or know much about service dogs and how they are supposed to interact. Brave has changed my life.