Richard Puente and K-9 Bella
Hello, my name is Richard Puente. I grew up in Ellsworth, WI. Shortly after high school I enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves where I served 12 years with the 652nd Engineer CO. My time in the service allowed me to travel the world and meet a lot of amazing people. I deployed to Iraq in 2009 (OIF) with the 401st Engineer CO out of Oklahoma. My time overseas was filled with ups and downs. I experienced things at a young age that people do not experience in a life time. 3 months after returning home from deployment, my oldest brother took his own life. Dealing with the effects of war and the loss of my brother weighed heavy on my mind. I started drinking and fighting a lot. Mentally, I was not in a good place. It took me about 10 years to finally speak with someone and get the help that I needed. I was diagnosed through the VA with PTSD.
I currently work for the St. Paul Police Department as a patrol officer. In my 5 years as an officer, I have seen more death and trauma at my civilian job than I did in my 12 years in the military (including my deployments). My story is not the same for everyone, but there are a lot of veterans I know that have never seen or smelled a decaying body. I can not name one 1st Responder that hasn't experienced it.
Soldier's 6 is so important for both Veterans and 1st Responders. There is no VA for police, so for an organization like Soldier's 6 to care so much, especially when support for police is down, is truly a blessing.