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RECIPIENTS
& K9'S

Shawn and K-9 Skippy

K-9 Skippy

My name is Shawn Laughton. I work for the Minneapolis Fire Department and I have been a member of the Minnesota Army National Guard since 2005.

Anonymous #1

Anonymous

It's important that I stay anonymous, but I want to tell you how important my assistance dog is to me.

Leigh and K-9 Louie

Security Forces Airman

My journey began on a small family farm in rural southeastern Wisconsin. My Father was my best friend and my greatest role model. He was strong, determined and gave everything of himself to his’ family.

K-9 Bindi

K-9 Bindi

I grew up in many states since I was from a military family but always considered MN my home.

John and K-9 Kodah

K- Kodah

When my husband was asked to write a bio, he looked at me and said, “I don’t like talking about myself”. In any other instance, I would encourage him to step out of his comfort zone and try, but I understand and respect his uncertainty with this. So let me introduce my husband.

Jessica and K-9 Charle

K-9 Charlie

My name is Jessica and first and foremost I am a mom to 2 awesome boys-Braeden (18) and Chase (17). I grew up in Golden Valley where my dad and uncle were both police officers.

 Richard Puente and K-9 Bella

K-9 Bella

Hello, my name is Richard Puente. I grew up in Ellsworth, WI.

Brandon and K9 Kaya

K-9 Kaya

What I will share is that during my policing career it became very apparent to those around me that PTSD had taken over my life and impacted me daily.

Kristina  and K9 Pax

K9 Pax

My name is SSG Kristina Morales Larson. I have been in the Army Reserves almost 14 years now and work full time for the Dakota Communications Center, first as a 911 Dispatcher and now as a Dispatch Supervisor.

Rylie and K9 Annie

K-9 Annie

I grew up near Blaine, MN. I joined the Army Reserves my Sophomore year of College and to this day I currently serve.

Anonymous #2

Anonymous #2

I have been a full-time license police officer in Minnesota since 1998. I became interested in Law Enforcement at a very young age.

Op and K-9 Kain

K-9 Kain

Hello. My name is OP. My story starts as a troubled kid with divorced parents at a young age.

Tiffany and K-9 Lainey

K-9 Lainey

My name is Tiffany, I grew up in a law enforcement family and was surrounded by law enforcement my entire life.

Shantell and K9 Hooch

K9 Hooch

About me hmm where do I start. Its not my style to write a “book” about myself so I will try to keep it short and sweet.

Lisa and K9 Layla

K- Layla

My name is Lisa Hanover. I was born and raised in Red Lake ON.

Anonymous K-9 Zelie

K-9 Zelie

I am a retired Air Force veteran and a current Corrections Officer.

Jane and K-9 George

K-9 George

My name is Jane Thompson, I am a 22-year veteran of the St. Paul Fire Department, a proud FEO medic and I love my job.

Anonymous #3

K-9 Ember

I would like to remain anonymous at this point in my journey through coping and healing.

Anonymous and K9 Koda

K-9 Koda

I was enlisted in the United States Army Reserve for 8 years from 2004 to 2012. In that time, I deployed to Iraq and Kuwait.

Steve and K-9 Runa

K-9 Runa

My name is Steve, I am a Marine Corps Veteran and a Law Enforcement Officer.

Nick and K-9 Brooksy

K-9 Brooksy

My name is Nick Leach. I served in the US Army Reserves for 8 years and was deployed in Iraq

Megan and K-9 Charity

K-9 Charity

Hi, my name is Megan and this is Charity. Where to start?

Mark and K9 Dakota

K-9 Dakota

Dakota is a 3 1/2-year-old English Springer Spaniel who has been a huge help to me with my pain from many surgeries and mild PTSD, but I know there's still more we can learn together.

Zach and K-9 Nana

K-9 Nana

Having a service dog is something I never thought was a possibility for myself for two reasons. First, I never thought I needed one, and second, the financial side.

Tom and K9 Faith

K-9 Faith

I have been a Police Officer for 24 years. I went to Alexandria Technical College for Criminal Justice.

Anonymous and K-9 Dolly

K-9 Dolly

I was born and raised in a small border town in Texas. Growing

Patricia and K-9 Josey

K-9 Josey

I was a police officer for the City of Minneapolis for 25 years.

Mike and K-9 Gabby

K-9 Gabby

My name is Mike Rygg. I am married with two children (8 year old daughter and 3 year old son).

Dave and K-9 Jax

K-9 Jax

My name is Dave Mathes, and I am 58-year-old male that lives in Ham Lake, Minnesota with my wife, Nicole and our three children.

Anonymous #5

Anonymous #5

My name is Steve, I am a Marine Corps Veteran and a Law Enforcement Officer.

Anonymous #7

K-9 Ruby

I have been a firefighter/paramedic for 18 years in the metro area. It was my dream job, I could not imagine myself doing anything else.

Frank and K-9 Rocky

K-9 Rockey

I have been a Firefighter/Paramedic for 20 plus years. I have witnessed many tragedies and triumphs throughout my career.

Kali and K-9 Frankie

K-9 Frankie

My Name is Kali Kaczmarek. I grew up in the Twin Cities Metro and my public service career started when I obtained my EMT certification in high school through OEC.

Adam and K9 Sig

K-9 Sig

I grew up in the Fire and EMS world as my dad was a firefighter/paramedic.

Reid and K-9 April

K-9 April

My name is Reid. I am deeply honored and grateful to be supported by Soldier 6.

Greg and K-9 Raven

K-9 Raven

My name is Greg and I was a police officer for more than 25 years. It was a career I loved for a long time. I loved the comradery, the action, and helping people.

Justin K-9 Max

Corrections Officer

My name is Justin, and I grew up in the Twin Cities metro area. I am married to my high school sweetheart Jessica.

Deana Allen K-9 Nala

Air Force

My name is Deana Allen and I currently live in the Twin Cities area with my husband of 12 years, our 8 year old twins, 2 dogs and a horse. We have moved 5 times in the last 8 years and are really enjoying Minnesota so far.

K-9 Valkyrie

K-9 Valkyrie

I was in the Army National Guard for 12 years, and out of that time I spent about 10 years on active duty orders in one way or another.

Aaron and K-9 Hulk

K-9 Hulk

Aaron had always had the desire to do something with his life that helped and impacted other people.

Matt and K-9 Atlas

K-9 Atlas

My name is Matthew and I am 35 years old. I was born in Boston and moved to Minnesota when I was about 3 years old. Growing up I played basketball,football,baseball and soccer.

Bob and K-9 Shadow

K-9 Shadow

I was born on January 22, 1949, in North Saint Paul Minnesota. I grew up on a small family farm in Bruno Minnesota. I graduated from Askov high school in 1967.

Anonymous and K9 Neytiri

K9 Neytiri

I joined law enforcement in my thirties and am in my sixth year as a Peace Officer. Prior to that, I worked as a Correctional Officer. Law enforcement was not a career "choice" growing up. I was made to believe I was not physically and biologically fit for the job.

Allen and K-9 Celly

K-9 Celly

I’m Allen Thill and I’m a Major in the Air National Guard serving with the 208rd Combat Weather Flight, supporting the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, stationed at the 133rd Air Lift Wing in MN.

Tracy Worsley

K9 Sarge

My name is Tracy Worsley. I was born and raised in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. Dad was a steelworker and Mom was a dress maker

Mike K-9 Flynn

K-9 Flynn

My name is Michael Morey, many call me “Mike” I was born and raised in the Twin Cities area.

Josemy and K-9 Mila

K-9 Mila

My name is Josemy Morales or known to some as husband, Papa, Staff Sergeant, Mo or OG.

Tony and K-9 Gus

K-9 Gus

My name is Anthony (Tony) Medellin. I grew up in St. Paul Minnesota.

Robert and K9 Rocco

K9 Rooco

My name is Robert, I am 32 years old and have been a Police Officer for just over seven and a half years. Depression is one of those feelings that can feel impossible to overcome.

David and K9 Lucy

K-9 Lucy

My name is David Mazzola. I was born and raised in Chicago.

Anonymous K-9 Winston

K-9 Winston

K9 Winston is helping his battle buddy in the everyday journey of life.

Dave and K-9  Schatze

K-9 Schatze

MAJ David Schlicher received a Direct Commission in the United States Army Reserve on 15 April 2009 in the Military Police Corp.

Anonymous #4

K-9 Domino

I am an Air Force veteran and a Firefighter.

Anonymous and K9 Charlie

K-9 Charle

With nearly 20 years in the fire service I have responded to countless calls for help.

Jermey and K-9 Pappy

K-9 Pappy

I was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. and after working through an Associates Degree in Police Science,

Dustin and K-9 Kalani

K-9 Kalani

My name is Dustin and I am a retired Deputy Sheriff from the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

Anonymous and K9 Genghis

K-9 Genghis

Ugh, nobody likes asking for help when their brain brakes.

Anonymous and K9 Nugget

K-9 Nugget

I worked for a large department for 26 years. I started working with our department when I was 18, as an intern that was a program ran through the city.

Kyle  and K-9 Kilo

K-9 Kilo

Hello! My name is Kyle Bode, and I am a Captain on the Saint Paul Fire Department and a retired Air Force MSgt.

Jordan and K9 Collins

K-9 Collins

My name is Jordan...and I really don’t want to write this. I struggle deeply with talking about myself.

Steve & K-9 Vixen

K-9 Vixen

I joined the Army on September 12th 2005,

Ryan and K-9 Onyz

K-9 Onyx

My name is Ryan, and I am a recipient of K9 Onyx. I grew up in the city of Rochester, and have chosen this city as my home.

Matthew and K-9 Marley

K-9 Marley

My name is Matthew Banyai, I’ve been a St Paul firefighter for 14 years. I’m also a 21 year veteran of the Air Force.

Bryan and K-9 Skye

K-9 Skye

I’m Bryan Shicks, and I served in the Army for 23 years with 3 tours in combat.

Anonymous #6

K-9 Moxie

I became a law enforcement officer to help people.

Greg and K9 Maverick

K-9 Maverick

I was a Boiler Technician for the United States Navy, stationed on the USS Flint AE-32 and I was home ported at Concord Naval Weapons Station in Concord California from 1985 thru 1989.

Dave and K-9 Nelson

K-9 Nelson

Hello, my name is Dave and I was a Police Officer from 2006 to 2022 recently retiring in September.

Anonymous and K-9 Kimber

K-9 Kimber

I’d like to take this opportunity to express part of who I am and how a K-9 companion helps. I’ve been employed in a major metro city for 10 years.

Monte and K9 Sheila

K-9 Sheila

MY NAME IS MONTE. I GREW UP IN NORTHWESTERN WISCONSIN. IN 1994, I GRADUATED FROM CVTC IN EAU CLAIRE, WI WITH AN ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE IN POLICE SCIENCE.

K-9 Tems

K-9 Tems

I’m from Blaine Minnesota. I joined the MN guard in 2017, I shipped off to Iraq late 2019 to late 2020.

The Prail's K-9 Asher

K-9 Ahser

Asher joined the Prail family and came to his fur-ever home on January 1, 2022. They are a Law Enforcement family in the Twin Cities.

Maria K-9 Cash

EMT

Hello, I am Maria am married to my husband of 13 years and we have 3 kids. We live on a small hobby farm in Minnesota. Here is my story…

Steve and K-9 Freya

Marine Corps / Police Officer

My name is steve and I am a Marine Corps veteran and a Police Officer. I grew up in Minnesota in a suburb of the Twin Cities and joined the Marine Corps out of high school as a Military Police Officer.

K-9 Ajax

K-9 Ajax

I have worked in Law Enforcement for over 15 years. There is so much that goes into this role, but I did not imagine what I would take on personally when I started in this career.

Charlie and K-9 Penny

K-9 Penny

I have been a police officer for nine years. Over those years I have seen and done things the majority of the population will thankfully never have to.

Anonymous and K-9 Wulf

K-9 Wulf

I am an Air Force Veteran and Law Enforcement Officer. I wish to remain anonymous.

Shannon and K-9 Chayenne

K-9 Chayenne

I am Shannon and I was a St.Paul Police Officer. While at SPD I was a part of several units; Bike Unit, Bike rapid response team, Mobile field force, and The Mounted Unit. I volunteered for Honor Guard, The Explorer program, and Shop with Cops.

Anonymous and K9 Dyno

K9 Dyno

I have been a Police Officer for a little over 7 years in a metro police department. Having this job is one of the most important things I have ever accomplished in my life.

Allie Lynn

K-9 Finn

My name is Allison Kreft. I am a 34 year old mother of two married to an amazing supportive man for the past 13 years.

Kim and K-9 Bruno

K-9 Bruno

My name is Kim, and I am a retired Inver Grove Heights Fire Department firefighter.

Samantha and K-9 Echo

K-9 Echo

My name is Samantha, I am 26 years old and have two amazing young children

Allison and K-9 Loki

K-9 Loki

Its 3 AM and I’m awake, again. Someone recently told me I was Murphy’s Law as a human and they were right.

Ben and K-9 Remi

K-9 Remi

I grew up in West Central Wisconsin with an agricultural background. Following my childhood dreams I joined a police department in Northern Wisconsin.

Amy and K9 Eloise

K-9 Eloise

As a licensed psychologist and marriage and family therapist, Dr. Amy Schweigert has a heart for first responders.

Dan and K-9 Buddy

K9 Buddy

My name is Dan, I currently live in Cottage Grove with my wife and 2 kids, with one on the way.

JD and K-9 Kona

K-9 Kona

My name is J.D. Ingham. I am married to my wife Brittany, and we have 2 young children.

Sailor Jerri and K9 Charlie

K-9 Charlie

Hi! I’m Sailor Jerri. I am happily married to my husband Billy, we have 5 kids, 5 horses, a cat named Flub, and now 2 dogs.

Lee and K-9 Reba

K-9 Reba

Ok, where do you start with these kinds of things? After 26 years of naval service; 10 active, 16 reserve, 4 combat deployments and a laundry list of accomplishments, duty stations, friends both lost and still alive. How do you sum that up in a simple bio?

 Ted and K9 Ceia

K-9 Ceia

Raised in Lakeville MN, joined the army as Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialist in 2010.

Jeremiah and K-9 Hope

K-9 Hope

My name is Jeremiah Miller. I joined the Army Reserves in 1994 and switched to the Minnesota Guard in 2002.

Anonymous and K-9 Arrow

K-9 Arrow

I am a 37-year-old Marine veteran who served my country with honor and dedication.

Dave and K-9 Nya

K-9 Nya

I grew up in a small town in Minnesota –graduating high school in 1994.

Anonymous and K-9 Lucy

K-9 Lucy

I don’t like to talk about myself very much, so this is hard to write. I worked as a Police Officer for 24 years in a large metro department, ending as a Sergeant.

Ryan and K-9 Hank

K-9 Hank

I was born in St. Paul Mn. Grew up with 4 sisters and 1 brother., both of my parents are still married, and raisded us in a religous upbringing.

Jason and K9 Kona

K-9 Kona

As always, I have attached a fundraiser. The money raised helps us on our journey. The unexpected ER vet bills, the weekly vet bills, adoption fees for the dogs, and endless training.

David and K9 Freund

K-9 Freund

David And Freund

Maddie and K-9 Lucca

K-9 Lucca

My name is Maddie and I worked for 3 years in Juvenile corrections and then another 3.5 years as a police officer in the metro area.

Anonymous and K-9 Vinny

K-9 Vinny

I am currently a police officer in the metro area.

Steve and K-9 Zara

K-9 Zara

My name is Steve, even at a young age, I felt the desire to serve the community in which I live.

Ryan and K-9 Kraken

K-9 Kraken

My name is Ryan. I fell in love with and married a Minnesota girl 15 years ago, and we have a 4-year-old daughter who keeps us on our toes.

Chris and K-9 Boomer

K-9 Boomer

I’m Chris I’ve been a paramedic for the last 16 years, the last 5 for Hennepin County EMS in downtown Minneapolis.

 Llana and K-9 Buck

K-9 Buck

My name is Llana Rojas and my battle buddy is Buck.

AJ  and K9 Ember

K-9 Ember

My name is A.J. Reyer. I’m 44 years old and am married to my amazing wife Mandy.

Anonymous and K-9 Myrtle

K-9 Myrtle

I worked with the DOC as a Corrections Officer and Case Manager at Red Wing for many years.

Casey and K-9 Oreo

K-9 Oreo

Born and raised in the heart of western Minnesota, I have always been drawn to a life of service.

K-9 Kaya

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Sometimes, we get a recipient, and it is important to them to share their story, yet having their name and pictures out there makes them a little uncomfortable. We never want someone to not want a dog because they fear their name being out there and we would never put someone through more than they already have been through because of their sacrifices for our country. Thus we are very honored to have the privilege of introducing you to this next recipient. He has fought for our freedom and now it is time we show him he is not alone. He was gifted one the 3 new pups. He has named this beautiful little girl Kaya. Please join us in welcoming little K9 Kaya and her battle buddy to the Soldier's 6 family! May they never feel alone again. Special thank you once again to Sue. She has helped to heal 3 heroes with her beautiful donations of puppies.

Below is his bio:

 

I served on active duty as an infantryman in the US Army deploying to Afghanistan twice between the years of 2005 and 2011. After I got out of the military, I spent a few years battling myself, moving around, and not feeling a purpose in life.

 

I moved to Minnesota a few years ago after the loss of my previous dog to try and be closer to my family. I recently purchased a home and have been spending too much time alone and my family and friends have noticed me slipping into old, bad habits that were seen when I first got out of the military.

My family knew the importance my previous dog had in my life and they recommended Soldier6 to me in order to get myself back on track for good.

James and K-9 Mya

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Hi, my name is James Hamilton, and I have been in the army for 16 years and counting. I joined in 2006 when I realized college was not the right fit for me. I grew up in a military family; my dad was a major for the army for 21 years. I decided the discipline and structure were the right fit for me; thus, I embarked on my army career.

 

I first joined the National Guard and was part of the charlie company 834th ASB (Red Bulls). My MOS was 25 Bravo. My first deployment was in 2008-2009 to Iraq. I was nervous, not knowing what to expect entering into a war zone. This deployment, overall, was a typical deployment. I had some scary experiences, but because I never really left my base, it was better than it could have been.

I went to active duty in 2009, at Fort Bliss Texas Delta company 125th BSB attached 1-13th CAV. I then switched my MOS to 92 fox. I was deployed in 2011/2012 to Afghanistan, and unlike my last deployment, this one was rough. As a fueler in the army being deployed, I saw a lot more action and saw things no one should have to. To this day, I suffer from PTSD from this deployment. Something as innocent as a soccer ball had to be questioned and feared over there.

 

In January 2013, I left active duty and joined the reserves in which I still reside. I'm currently with the Great Lake Command, and I switched back to my original MOS as a 25 Bravo. I have received the soldier of the year reward, ARCOM, and army achievement medals. I am proud to be a soldier and to serve our country.

 

I married my wife in 2013 and welcomed a son in 2016 and a daughter in 2020. I always thought that with time, my anxiety and PTSD would fade, but that's not the case. It's hard to tell people you need help and that you're having a hard time with life dealing with things from deployment. For my civilian job, I am an over the road trucker, which leaves me to be alone at night and no one around to help me cope. My hope with this service dog is that I will have a battle buddy to help me deal with everyday life.

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Tim and K-9 Mia

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Hey there, my name is Tim Schroeder and I am a sergeant with Waseca Police Department. I have been a police officer for 24yrs, 23 of them with Waseca PD.

 

Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to be an officer. My father was a paramedic and my grandfather a firefighter, so I knew I wanted to serve to community in my own way.

 

The life of an officer is not an easy one by any means. Many of us deal with the unthinkable and the lowest of the low, often finding it hard to see the good on the darkest of days. We deal with continuous trauma, which is often hard to reconcile within ourselves.

 

Waseca is a small, rural community and we often know those we serve and come in contact with. A few incidents from my experience stand out and will forever stick with me & have changed my life. The first that comes to mind is a deadly home invasion of a family that happened on Feb 3rd, 2007, and is an image I cannot unsee. On Jan 6th, 2019, I was shot at and witnessed one of my other three partners that night take a bullet to the head. Both of these have left me with the struggles of flashbacks, wondering if I did enough, did I fail my community & partners, survivor’s guilt and questioning my place as an officer and a person. I also feel I have placed a lot on my family to understand.

 

Having been a K9 officer, I know firsthand what a wonderful partner a dog makes. I am grateful to Soldiers 6 for recognizing a need for those in law enforcement to have the unconditional love of a dog to help with filling in those missing pieces. I recently suffered a mild heart attack and believe the gift of Mia will not only help heal my heart but also give me the motivation I need to keep moving in this crazy thing called life.

 

Thank you to all who serve and to those whom make this a possibility.

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Luis and K-9 Valens

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We welcome into our Soldiers 6 family a hero who has been through enough and wishes to remain a bit anonymous, and we absolutely respect that. He has given his all to his community, and tonight, he gets to snuggle and play with his new battle buddy, Valens. K9 Valens is special in so many ways, but his battle buddy is dedicating him to Officer Ella French(she is pictured below). Officer French killed in the line of duty this past August after a car she and her partner pulled over fired on the them. Ella tragically lost her life, and her partners will forever be changed. Special thank you to Coco's Heart Dog Rescue. We appreciate the care for our recipients and help in placing these 4 legged heroes with their new handlers.

Hello, my name is Luis and I am originally from a suburb of Chicago, Illinois called Carpentersville. I grew up there until 2007 when I moved to Minnesota to be with my now wife. My wife and I had two beautiful daughters.

It was my childhood dream of mine to become a police officer. In 2012 that dream came true and I became a police officer for one of the biggest departments in the State of Minnesota. During my service for this police department I saw a lot of events that normal civilians don’t see. I responded to shootings, stabbings, and people not breathing calls. Also I had to perform CPR on adults and on infants. The infants that I performed CPR on did not survive. This crushed me a lot seeing infants die. I also was involved in a squad accident where my partner and I were T-Boned by a drunk driver. Due to this accident I had a pulmonary embolism which is a blood clot that was found in my lungs. I was told by the doctor that if I had gone to sleep that morning after my shift my wife would have been found to be deceased because the blood clot was traveling up to my heart. And if the blood clot would have reached my heart it would have stopped it and I would have died. Due to me being new to the job I just brushed it off and continued to work. I didn’t realize that it was affecting me but it was because I wanted to be superman.

Fast forward to 2020 I was still a police officer for the same city where it all started. We all know what happened that year. I was detailed to work the unrest/riots. There we had stuff thrown at us, people shooting guns at us, shooting fireworks at us and getting verbally abused.

I finished working the riots and that was the first time I knew something was wrong with me. I was very paranoid, not wanting to stop for red lights and thought people were following me home. I knew that I had to get professional help. When I got professional help I was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression. I had to medically retire from my childhood dream.

Having PTSD, anxiety and depression I feel like I can not go into any store because I always think that I am going to get ambushed or someone is going to recognize me. So I stay home for the most part and not go out.

I want a battle buddy to help me get out more and feel calmer at home and in the stores.

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Matt and K-9 Delta

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My name is Matt, I served in the army from 2011-2014. I was OEF 11-12 with the 172nd brigade, I experienced my first traumatic event when we found some older AT-4 launchers and were told to use them for training. During this time one of my friends was up to fire his and there was a rupture in the tube causing the weapon to detonate within the tube when fired. My friend was killed immediately. During the course of the next few years and after my out process I continued to use alcohol to mask the pain. I didn't want to show any weakness and did I feel I could trust anyone to be able to reach out for help. After my family who was very supportive told me and assisted in me to find the help I needed through the VA. Still having a few struggles, I have gone back to alcohol and continuing to shut down. I am currently working on getting better but then my mother found soldiers6 and told me to reach out. I feel this will be by far one of the best solutions to helping me. I strongly support this program and feel there needs to be more out there like soldiers6.

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Miguel and K-9 Raya

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My name is Miguel Guadalajara, and boy, have I had a such the life. After high school, I really did not know what I wanted to do with my life. I was not ready for college and I did not want to work at a dead-end job. So, in 1997, I joined the Marine Corps instead. What an experience I had. In my first four years I lived in California and traveled around the world, but when the nation was attacked, I knew things were about to change. In September 10, 2004, my Battalion and I were sent to Fallujah Iraq. We took part in Operation Phantom Fury, the taking of Fallujah. What an experience to say the least. I was in theater (Iraq) until April 2005. When I got back to the states, I had orders to Recruiting duty in Minnesota, this would be my second tour of recruiting duty.

In February 2009, I made the hardest decision in my life (at this time) and I left the Marine Corps and decided to start a new chapter of my life and follow my childhood dreams. So, I went to school and obtained my degree in criminal justice and passed the Minnesota post-test. Soon after, I was hired as a Police Officer on October 26, 2012.

I enjoyed my time as a police office, and loved everything about it. But my career was stopped short and again, I had to make the hardest decision in my life, to choose between my career or mental health. I choose my mental health, for the wellbeing of me and my family.

I reached out to Soldiers 6 and told them my story. I was lucky to be matched with a beautiful German Shepard named Raya. Thank you for the opportunity to have a companion through this horrible struggle I am going though.

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Aimee and K-9 Carl

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My name is Aimee. I was born in South Dakota and joined the Army out of high school. I’ve been serving for the last 20 years and am preparing for retirement. I moved to Minnesota in 2004 and after spending time away for deployments and military duty have been here.

During my service I was sexually assaulted while deployed to the Philippines. That event scarred me. I never sought help, thinking that my emotional state was due to depression which I’ve had my entire life. That event and the significant childhood trauma that had not been addressed has affected my ability to function. Adding on to that, during my deployment to Afghanistan I saw things that scared me, gave me nightmares, and brought up all the past traumas.

I have been trying to manage my pain with a variety of medications and half-assed therapy. It’s only recently, in the last two years, that I’ve been able to talk about my experiences honestly. I have major depressive disorder, I suffer from panic attacks and severe anxiety, insomnia, and was recently diagnosed with PTSD and another mental illness.

In a particularly bad moment I reached out to a good friend to express my despair and he told me about Soldiers6. He told me how the organization has helped his family and urged me to reach out. I never thought I would be able to get a service dog, I’d thought about it but felt there were others who needed them more.

So I reached out. Dana contacted me the same day and we scheduled a call with Ed the next day! They were so kind and made me feel like this was a real option for me. It’s a big step for me to admit I need help, and an even bigger deal to ask for it. I have to do something though, I want to enjoy my life and be the best mom I can be, because, frankly, I haven’t been doing either for a very long time. I’m hoping that with the support of a service dog and this wonderful organization, plus therapy, I can begin to heal.

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Dan and K-9 Maggie

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Sergeant Dan Wulff was born in Thailand, grew up in Laos, and moved to Minnesota when he was 10 years old. He graduated from the University of Minnesota, and was commissioned as an Army officer. He served in Germany and in the Army Reserve in Minnesota, attaining the rank of Captain. After completing the active duty part of his service, he joined the Minneapolis Police Department, and worked Patrol in the 4th Precinct, Gang Unit, Homicide, Juvenile Unit, and Bomb Squad.

 

In 2005, while serving as the Bomb Squad Commander, Dan was injured by a blast during a training exercise. He was following all of the safety protocols that were in place at the time, but the protocols were wrong. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, and the doctors said it was a miracle that he survived. Dan has been unable to work since his injury, but has focused on reaching out to other injured law enforcement officers to help them learn how to cope with their new normal.

 

Dan’s wife, Wendy, is his caregiver and best friend, and helped found the Minnesota Association for Injured Peace Officers. They have 3 adult sons, 2 daughters in law, and 2 grandsons. Dan and Wendy have become close friends with Maggie and her K9, Bailey. Dan saw how much Bailey helps Maggie, and even helps Dan to function better in environments where sensory overload is a factor. He is looking forward to welcoming and bonding with his own service dog from Soldiers 6.

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Gary and K-9 Glory

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Glory and Gary. Gary is a recently medically retired police officer. He worked for over 17 years for our town and 21 total years in law enforcement. When Gary took his uniform off December 23 2019 we didn’t know that he would not ever put it back on again. He was determined to get well and that is what started a whirlwind of time we had from doctors, psychologist, treatment, hospitalization, lawyers and more. I am glad he received the help he needed and is continuing to receive that help. He was saved by Grace the night it was too much and he didn’t want to live anymore, his cup overflowed. Grace brought him to a place where he could ask for help. He is now at 21 months of sobriety and he continues healing with his doctors and psychiatrist help. He has overcome many struggles in the last couple years and we are grateful for his accomplishments. Glory has an older pup brother Gunny. Gunny has been an important part of Gary’s recovery. Gary has brought Gunny pretty much where ever he goes. He has said that there are times that being accountable to his dog is part of his duty to keep pushing towards getting well. Gunny has taken on his new role as Gary’s buddy. It has been interesting watching the two interact and seeing the relationship between these two, Gunny notices Gary’s stress and Gary has picked up on Gunny’s cues. Gunny isn’t trained as a therapy or service dog but he has really fallen into the role well. With this we have realized how much benefit a service dog would be for Gary. Gunny is getting older, slowing down and can’t do as much as he used to so we are looking forward to Glory stepping into this role. Glory is loving our small hobby farm. There is plenty of room here for her to run, play and terrorize the chickens. We feel blessed to have this opportunity to have Glory as part of our family. We are so thankful for the support of Invisible Wounds Project and Soldiers 6.

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Michael and K-9 Xandra

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My name is Michael Westerfield, I was born and raised by my parents in Easton, MD and after I graduated from high school, I joined the navy. I had met the mother of my two children, who are amazing boys that are my whole world. I served 10 years in the navy before I injured my back, I had done two deployments. I have seen some amazing places in the world and along those I was a part of the Haiti Relief and was one of the first Navy ships out there.

 

I moved here to Minnesota due to my ex was from here to be close to her family. I had a very hard time adjusting and became very closed off. My boys were the ones who helped me see more clearly and what I needed to do, which was to give them a better life. I started to go to college to better myself and it also helped me with becoming social again. Shortly after starting college, it was hard being around the civilian side so I reached out and joined the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). They helped me to get back in to the civilian world and every step of the way. Without me joining the WWP I would have never have meet some of the amazing service members that I know can call friends, and one in, Tim Diamond, who pointed me to here for help, Soldiers 6.

 

I knew with everything medically and mentally going on in my life I need help and you can not always get ahold of someone. Being able to have a K-9 by my side 24/7 I know that I will have someone in my corner even in my darkest hour. Everyone needs someone to watch there 6 and that is why this program is so beneficial. Between having a K-9, my kids (when I get them), friends, and family I know I will never have to go through a dark time again. Thank you so much Soldier 6 for making this all possibly for all of us.

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Patrick and K-9 LEO

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My name is Patrick Nickle, I am a 26-year veteran of both active duty in the Marine Corps and reservist in the Army. I spent 13 years enlisted and 13 years as an officer with 3 deployments. Like many service members, I have had many friends who passed due to external injuries but more who have passed because of the demons they face after serving their country.

 

I have also been a Police Officer for 18 years and within the 18 years, I was on a part-time SWAT team. I have been on numerous callouts at all hours of the day and night. I started off on the entry team, cross leveled to sniper and promoted to the Commander rank. I am also a street supervisor who has had to deal with some of the worst calls imaginable which is to tell parents their loved one died in an accident, or your family member took his life.

 

I am no different from the next guy who has had to deal with some tragic situations whether overseas or on the streets. These situations take a toll on our mental health and before you know it, you’re contemplating life and if it is worth living. You become reckless in your actions by confronting people for simple things knowing damn well they’re not why you’re in pain.

 

I may or may not have gone through some of this but what I can tell you is after getting involved in a road rage incident with my young son in the car, it was time to get help. I sought out help through the VA, but they can only help so much.

 

Just when I thought things were turning around, I had a house fire and lost everything which included my family dog. I was devastated, depressed, and found myself in a funk. It was at this point I was contacted by Ed who offered a therapy dog which I accepted without hesitation.

 

My puppy, Leo, is a golden retriever/ Labrador mix. He is 9 weeks old and has been nothing shy of amazing. I have only had him a few days at this point, but Leo has been a light, he is such a loving, caring dog who looks up at you with these kind eyes. It’s almost as if he knows and is telling me, I am here now, I got you. Leo is exactly what I needed and I look forward for our future adventures together.

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Patrick and K-9 LEO

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My name is Patrick Nickle, I am a 26-year veteran of both active duty in the Marine Corps and reservist in the Army. I spent 13 years enlisted and 13 years as an officer with 3 deployments. Like many service members, I have had many friends who passed due to external injuries but more who have passed because of the demons they face after serving their country.

 

I have also been a Police Officer for 18 years and within the 18 years, I was on a part-time SWAT team. I have been on numerous callouts at all hours of the day and night. I started off on the entry team, cross leveled to sniper and promoted to the Commander rank. I am also a street supervisor who has had to deal with some of the worst calls imaginable which is to tell parents their loved one died in an accident, or your family member took his life.

 

I am no different from the next guy who has had to deal with some tragic situations whether overseas or on the streets. These situations take a toll on our mental health and before you know it, you’re contemplating life and if it is worth living. You become reckless in your actions by confronting people for simple things knowing damn well they’re not why you’re in pain.

 

I may or may not have gone through some of this but what I can tell you is after getting involved in a road rage incident with my young son in the car, it was time to get help. I sought out help through the VA, but they can only help so much.

 

Just when I thought things were turning around, I had a house fire and lost everything which included my family dog. I was devastated, depressed, and found myself in a funk. It was at this point I was contacted by Ed who offered a therapy dog which I accepted without hesitation.

 

My puppy, Leo, is a golden retriever/ Labrador mix. He is 9 weeks old and has been nothing shy of amazing. I have only had him a few days at this point, but Leo has been a light, he is such a loving, caring dog who looks up at you with these kind eyes. It’s almost as if he knows and is telling me, I am here now, I got you. Leo is exactly what I needed and I look forward for our future adventures together.

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Jeff and K-9 Dino

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My name is Jeff and I grew up in suburban Minneapolis and in February of 1997 I joined the Army. After basic training I was stationed in Germany and immediately upon my arrival I was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina. I returned to Germany after my deployment but was again deployed to the Balkan Region, this time to Kosovo. After completing that deployment I returned to Germany and finished the rest of my active duty.

After being discharged from the Army I found employment with a metro county sheriff’s office. It was a natural fit because I enjoyed the same comrdamie in law enforcement that I found in the military. Through the course of my professions I have repeatedly witnessed the worse actions humanity can inflict upon one another and themselves. I now see that constant exposure to that kind of trauma slowly changed me from an easygoing, happy go-lucky guy into being angry, resentful, suspicious of everyone, and prone to dramatic mood swings. After the civil unrest settled down in the summer of 2020 I began mental health counseling again and shortly afterwards I knew I could no long stay employed as a deputy sheriff. After a lot of talk with my wife we made the decision for me to step away from my career in law enforcement.

After leaving law enforcement I have continued my mental health counseling but I still deal with anxiety, depression, and wild mood swings. I look forward to starting this new opportunity with Soldiers 6. I am hopeful that working with a service dog will help lower my anxiety and depression and also help me to get back to enjoying activities that I haven’t in quite some time.

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Trey and K-9 Gunner

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Hi, my name is Jimmy. I prefer to be called Trey as I am the third born Jimmy. I was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. My dad was stationed there during that time. My Dad continued in the Army and we moved from state to state. I lived in North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Washington and North Dakota.

When I was 17, I decided that I wanted to join the Army and follow in the footsteps of my Dad. I went to basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. I went to Airborne school after basic training and then was first stationed at Hohenfels, Germany. I was assigned to A co 1-4 INF. I spent 3 years in Germany while serving two deployments to Afghanistan. After my deployments I was sent back to the U.S. and was then stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I was assigned to A co 1-505 PIR. I did one deployment with A co 1-505 PIR to Afghanistan again.

Soon after my deployments I started showing signs of PTSD from my deployments, so it was determined by the Army that started going to therapy. I went through some extensive therapy in the Army. It was then determined that I continue with medical discharge from the Army due to my PTSD. I was discharged in February of 2013.

After discharge, I moved to Minnesota. My wife is from Minnesota, so I moved up to there to be with her, so we could continue to grow our family. We have six amazing kids together. Shortly after the move, I started going to the V.A. for therapy. It was beneficial, but found I needed a change in therapists. Within the past year, I started seeing a different therapist who has helped me in so many ways with my PTSD. She suggested that I look into service dogs to help me with my PTSD, so I started looking around to see what the possibilities were. After an appointment, I was talking to a buddy of mine who gave me the name of Soldier’s 6. He encouraged me to look into this specific organization. I am so glad to have found this organization and my Battle Buddy.

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Ben and K-9 Sunny

Hi. My name is Benny Lego. I was a police officer for the City of St. Paul for 14.5 years. I worked security at MOA for 8 years before that. My experiences at the MOA were significant enough to prepare me for my career in law enforcement. Approximately 23 years in law enforcement and related fields.

I was a patrol officer, serving the city’s eastern district for the majority of my time there. I was able to work all districts but the east side was the best for me.

Until it wasn’t. Detachment, isolation at work. Fears of death, and certain imprisonment for doing my job hindered my ability to do my job. Not wanting to share my agonizing struggle with my family, i kept it hidden inside. Almost daily panic attacks starting in 2016 until my last day at work adversely affected my work habits, and performance. I sought the help of our department EAP Sergeant and began seeing a therapist. This helped some and bought me time to improve my severe anxiety and severe depression. But these things became too difficult to overcome.

Now i have a very difficult time leaving the house. Going to stores. And even going into my own kitchen. All of these things and more cause me to have panic attacks.

We were informed of the possibility of having a service dog. At first i thought no way. I didn’t need one. But encouragement from my beautiful and dedicated wife, and my slow recovery convinced me to consider. I spoke with Ed from Soldier’s 6 and we had a very deep and heart to heart talk. I was convinced afterward this would be a huge help for me.

With the help from Soldier’s 6, i got Sunny. He’s currently a 4 month old Cavapoo (King Charles Cavalier/Poodle mix). He has fit right in to our home. I will be enrolling in the service dog training recommended by Soldier’s 6 after some time getting Sunny acclimated to our home.

I’m not done with my journey. I have a long way to go. Soldier’s 6 has become part of it and I am looking forward to this opportunity to help improve my condition and become a contributing member of society once again.

Stay Safe.

Benny Lego

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Tim and K-9 Gunny

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I served in the Marines from July 1989 to July 2011. Through this period I have served from Camp Lejeune to Camp Pendleton to Washington DC. My three combat deployments came at the end of my career. I started out as a truck driver and proceeded on to get training in Logistics. It was one hell of a ride, but all good things must come to an end. I have several deployments all over the world. I have three tours in Iraq at the end of my time in the military.
 

Since I have retired I have suffered from PTSD AND Depression. It is for these reasons I these reasons I think I would benefit from a service dog.

 

Timothy J. Diamond

Retired GySgt (E7) USMC

1989-2011

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Lorrie and K-9 Daisy

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My name is Lorrie. I am 58 and I grew up in Sioux Falls SD. I am married to the love of my life William Branum. I grew up raising and riding horses and working along side my dad on his construction jobs. I participated in all types of sports as well. I guess you could say I worked and played hard.

At 19 I married my first husband and moved to Grand Forks AFB (he joined the Air Force). After 2 kids and 4 years in Grand Forks, he switched services to the Marine Corps. Of to California for 4 years. Then Hawaii and another child. After 12 years of active duty he decided to go Reserve and we returned home to Sioux Falls. There I enrolled in an EMT class and thus began the greatest career of my life.

I began my EMS career in 1997. Became a paramedic in 1999. At that time I was told that since I was 1 of only 3 women medics in Sioux Falls I was going to have to work harder to prove myself. I took the challenge. I grew up learning to work hard and suck it up when it came to struggles and keep going. I applied that to my EMS career.

We divorced shortly after and I became a single mom of 3. I spent the first few years working for Rural/Metro in Sioux Falls and flying Fixed wing for both hospitals(Avera Mckennon and Sioux Valley...now Sanford). I also flew rotor wing for Avera Mckennon (the first female flight medic to fly for them as a medic. Others were medics but became RN's and flew). I loved flying!!! I loved the motto of" do it bigger, better, stronger, smarter and faster than the guys"...and I earned the respect of not only the ambulance staff but Police, Fire and hospital staff as well.

I took a medic job for North Memorial in the Forest Lake region in August 2002. My youngest daughter moved with me. I worked 911 and critical care during my time in Forest Lake. I also flew a year with North Aircare in Princeton. I flew the first flight out of their new base in Princeton. Needless to say trying to balance career and single mom and traveling to Sioux Falls to see my other 2 grown kids was a challenge at times but I love my kids and my career so I pushed through! I had the best time and career ever!!!! I spent the last 10 years of my career as a Field training officer and an educator for our staff on top of working. I was a natural at training and teaching and running calls. EMS was my thing.

At home though, I was struggling with a teenage daughter who was pretty lost. She had battled depression and anxiety for years and I seemed to have to battle providers and hospitals to get her some help. Always a roller coaster ride. She is amazing and really doing well today. During this time I also became a grandma(oldest daughter had first child...she is married and now has 4) and my son was deployed to Iraq with the Army(active duty). 3 deployments with him and a complete medical disabled discharge due to TBI, PTSD and some physical limitations. So extremely proud of him. He has a a wife and 3 kids.

I met the love of my life in May of 2012. William is the best man I have ever known. He has opened a whole new world for me...outdoor girl. ATV's, hunting, guns, fishing, motorcycle and snowmobiling. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect husband for me...well actually I did...I prayed...GOD answered.

In November