Where did you serve and what did you do?
I served in the US Army in Iraq (2003-2004) and Afghanistan (2012) as a Combat Engineer. I was involved in identifying, clearing, tracking and preventing the emplacement of IEDs.
Tell us how your dog is helping you continue #StillServing in your community.
I have numerous dogs that are helping me to be #StillServing in my community. Several hundred every year, as a matter of fact. I am currently the coordinator for a Veteran’s program at the Jacksonville Humane Society that offers Veterans the opportunity to spend time with the large population of shelter dogs we have in our community. The program is called Paws & Stripes and we train Veterans to work with and handle shelter dogs in a high stress environment while our dogs waiting to find new homes through the adoption process. Our Veterans handle our dogs in and out of the kennel, take them outside to get much needed exercise, and spend time building strong bonds with the dogs that not only mean the world to the dogs but provide enormous therapeutic benefits for the Veterans. The Paws & Stripes program also provides a 4-week jobs skills training program exclusively for Veterans interested in a career in animal care. The Paws & Stripes Academy provides the knowledge and skills required to safely and successfully care for shelter animals onsite at the Jacksonville Humane Society. The Paws & Stripes program is a win-win for the Veteran community of Jacksonville and the numerous shelter dogs looking for the love and attention from caring individuals looking to serve the community.
Why do you do it?
Working with dogs and Veterans brings together two great passions in my life. I am always looking to find ways to improve the lives and well-being of our military Veterans. And I don’t think there is any better way to do that than receiving the unconditional love of an animal in need. And there is no better reward than seeing the happy tail wags of a dog as they get the chance to spend some time out of their kennel with a caring and attentive Veteran.