Steve and K-9 Runa
My name is Steve, I am a Marine Corps Veteran and a Law Enforcement Officer. I grew up in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I joined the Marine Corps in June 2001 fresh out of high school. I graduated from boot camp and was an Artillery Cannoneer stationed in Hawaii. Sending 155 mm rounds down range was fun. I quickly rose to the rank of Corporal when I became a black belt martial arts instructor and quickly promoted to Sergeant and became a section chief. I had many great opportunities that most of my peers never had. I made the unfortunate mistake of leaving active duty, however it was a blessing in disguise, because an opportunity came up to go to Kansas City, MO. I became the chief martial arts instructor. While at the Marine Corps Mobilization Command, I took orders to Germany working for Marine Corps Europe and Africa. I was again promoted ahead of my peers to Staff Sergeant. After 12 years serving in the Marine Corps, I decided my time had been done serving my country and I was accepted to the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities where I received my B.A. in Psychology. I met my wife through mutual friends that I had graduated with. We had our first-born son in Minnesota just before an unfortunate job loss created the opening for my second career goal to become a Law Enforcement Officer. Our first son was our only full-term pregnancy.
I worked 5 years in South Dakota as a Deputy Sheriff. The county I worked for had 3 Officers, a Sheriff and 2 Deputies. We worked one man shifts and our nearest back up was never close enough. While attending the academy, my wife who was pregnant with our second child, went in for a routine check-up and ended up being flown to Sioux Falls for an emergency C-section at 32 weeks. We had no idea there was anything wrong prior to this check-up. Our daughter had no heartbeat when she was born, however the medical team was able to revive her, and she spent 3 months in the NICU. She is now 6 and has an inner fire that she will kick ass and take names.
After 3 years, I was one of the original Task Force Officers of a multi-jurisdiction Criminal Enforcement Team focusing on drug interdiction. We worked in 6 jurisdictions including 2 Indian Reservations.
On October 30th of 2018, I responded to a critical incident involving children who were the same ages as our son and daughter at the time (4 and 2) I remember coming home and holding our children close. I didn’t realize how much of an impact that incident would have on me until years later. I was back on patrol the very next day without support from my administration. During my time in South Dakota, there were several more incidents that I would respond to, where I didn’t get the support I needed from administration which would unknowingly continue to affect my mental health.
We had our last child in 2020. My wife again had complicating medical issues; however, our doctors were monitoring my wife closer during this pregnancy. Our son had to be born at 30 weeks or both would not have survived. We thought our daughter was feisty, she does not come close to our son. He will be the one to conquer the world. After much thought and consideration, my wife and I decided to move closer to family and bought 80 acres in Northern Wisconsin and started our farm from ground zero. We raise Scottish Highland Cattle for beef and are adding Icelandic Sheep.
I still work as a Deputy Sheriff assigned to an Indian Reservation and am a Task Force Officer for Wisconsin’s Native American Drug and Gang Task Force.
My wife has seen changes in me through the years and had mentioned it to me. I never saw what she saw. In the Marines we compartmentalized everything, and I thought I could continue to do so without consequence. I was wrong. My deep dark box that I continued to put everything I did not want to deal with, overflowed. It finally came to a head this last week and I finally realized what my wife had been seeing in me.
I am not as indestructible as we Marines think we are. I get angry for no reason and its zero to 100. I don’t like being in crowds or lots of traffic. I am hyper-vigilant, and I battle anxiety. I isolate myself from all relationships outside of my wife and kids. My wife and I have just recently been going out on double dates, which we have never done before. I am working on getting myself back to the person I was. We were introduced to Soldiers 6 through mutual friends, attended and supported their benefits, and my wife brought up the idea of a service dog. I’ve always had dogs growing up. Dogs have always been a huge part of me and keep me grounded. I am excited and looking forward to my healing journey with K9 Runa. I am thankful for my wife who is a huge support for me, and I could never give her enough credit.
I am thankful to Soldiers 6, Ed and Dana for allowing me this opportunity with Runa.