Where did you serve and what did you do?
I completed 6 tours in Afghanistan (2001-2007). I worked with JSOC targeting HVTs and then I was the initial, on-site interrogator. After leaving 10 years of active duty, I settled in Nebraska with my wife (who was still in the Air Force – and eventually retired).
Tell us how your dog is helping you continue #StillServing in your community.
In 2014, I joined the ALR and helped raise money for Veteran causes… shortly thereafter I became a Den Leader for a Cub Scout pack, and then eventually became the Scoutmaster for a Boy Scout Troop (both sponsored by my local American Legion). I also served as a BSA District Commissioner and am now the Council Training Chair, while simultaneously transitioning from Sr. Vice Commander to Commander of my VFW post.
Suffice it to say, after 6 combat tours, I have had an incredibly hard time adjusting to societal expectations. My service dog, a red lab, is a lovable goofball that helps keep me on-point when I am in large groups. He helps me stay calm when I would otherwise not be able to temper my anger/frustration. When I do not want to attend a large community event, I force myself to go because kids love playing with him, which helps me stay calm and feel like I am integrated into the community.
Why do you do it?
Volunteering in my community is incredibly time consuming because I still have a full-time job, but it is an absolute necessity. Using the proverbial phrase, “the kids today” are lost when it comes to patriotic Americanism and civic-minded responsibility. I believe it is our duty as Veterans to help guide and mentor them so they understand their obligations as citizens towards the constitution, democratic republicanism, liberty, freedom, and other nuanced components that continue to make us a great nation. I work with my American Legion and VFW to not only help fellow Veterans, but I also keep them abreast of my community youth support activities to help them become engaged and get involved with the younger generations.