Where did you serve and what did you do?
Major Shaun Riffe, USA, Retired, enlisted into the North Dakota National Guard in February of 1989. During my enlisted time, I served as a paratrooper and Stinger Missile Platoon Sergeant. I received his commission in 1996 and held both US Army Engineer and Air Defense Artillery branch qualifications. During my career, I was the commander of the 849th Sapper Engineer Company and 147th Human Resource Company.
I deployed with the MN Army National Guard from Nov 2003 to Apr 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II (OIFII). While there, I served as the Executive Officer for Delta 216th ADA Battery and was stationed in Camp Liberty and Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq. During this tour, I was awarded the Valorous Unit Award, Bronze Star Medal, Global War of Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Tell us how your dog is helping you continue #StillServing in your community.
SadieMae is our 8 year Golden Retriever. Sadie was an extremely energic puppy and spent countless hours at the dog park. playing fetch and loving on any human she meet. As she’s matured, she has become my travel buddy and work companion and comes in to our office on a weekly (or more) basis. I work with homeless Veterans at the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans in St. Paul, MN.
When Sadie meets a new Veteran or staff member, she instantly bring a smile to their face. She has no judgment and creates a calming presence in situation where Veteran are working through some challenging life experiences.
Why do you do it?
At first, Sadie just came to the office with me to so she would have some outside socialization. But it I was quick to learn that she really had a gift for changing the mood in the room to create positive energy. She get Veterans to open up and start to talk about their dogs or creating a new home so they can have a dog on their own. People open up and seem to feel less vulnerable and calm down after her joyful greeting so we can help work through solutions to their concerns.