I am an Army Reservist with 13 years of service, 8 of which have been on Active Duty. I joined the Army during my junior year of high school on February 17, 2000.
In May 2003, I earned the rank of Specialist and the next month I was called to Active Duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom serving our country as an ammunition specialist (specializing in computer logistics), landing me in Afghanistan after quick deployment training at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
In August 2007, I left home for Fort Hood, Texas for my second tour of duty. From Fort Hood, Texas, my unit left to serve in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During this deployment, I earned my Sergeant stripes and became a leader of the troops.
Having served two tours overseas, I was offered another mobilization home side. I was mobilized to Fort McCoy to be a trainer for military service men and women leaving to serve our country. I had the opportunity to share everything that I leaned overseas with service members from all branches of the military.
After serving two years on Fort McCoy and being apart from my family of three years, we decided to sell our home and rent closer to the base, all while multiple medical problems I didn’t realized I had started to surface. I started having trouble running and walking without having any severe pain in my knees. I also started to have flash backs and anxiety problems along with sleep issues. Eventually, I was moved from training soldiers into an office job where I was able to contribute to the planning of training that was given to deploying service members.
In September 2011 I had to leave my family again to go to Fort Knox to get medical evaluations and help. I eventually found a program where I could get home and receive medical help and volunteer at the VA hospital for a work day while still being on military orders.
In March 2013, I was given a service dog named Ava. Since Ava’s arrival in the family and with her help, my wife and family say I seem a lot happier and I am able to get out more often.
I still have three months till my retirement. When that is over, I plan to complete my computer science degree, which I am pursuing online due to my medical conditions and issues with crowds. So far, I have maintained Magna Cum Laude standards. After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in computer science.
I am so glad that I have been afforded the opportunity to have Ava as a service dog and that I can help society realize that not all military injuries are easy to see on the outside. I can hide my injuries under my clothes, and avoid things that most never realize, even with the help of a service dog.
Charles was an ammunition specialist who was called to active duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He served two tours of duty overseas in Afghanistan.
Charles came to me wondering if his injuries would prevent him from playing golf again. He has injuries in his right elbow and wrist which affect his hand and arm movements and also in both knees. He has to wear stabilizing braces to keep him on his feet during his swing. Fortunately, Charles still has full range of motion in his hips, back, and shoulders, which allows him to make a proper rotational turn. His greatest physical challenge is his balance during his set-up and swing.
In setting Charles up to the ball, I had Charles narrow his stance to shoulder-width with both feet flared out and with his weight evenly distributed to promote a more balanced and stable set-up position. From this position, Charles was able to rotate his right hip, allowing his weight to shift to his right and then back to his left for a more inside-out forward swing. Eventually, he was able to finish with his weight on his front leg in a relaxed position instead of falling back and cutting across the ball, thereby correcting his tendency to slice to the right.
His hand and arm injuries affected his ability to hinge his wrists and rotate his forearms. We have been working so that he can properly cock his wrists and rotate his forearms counter-clockwise. His sessions during the last few months have been very productive and he has been steadily improving so that now he is able to hit the ball more consistently. Charles is one of the most positive wounded warriors that I have worked with and we have a great time working together. Also note in the pictures that Charles has a service dog named Ava. She aids him in his recovery from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and physical daily tasks.