HomeNewsArticle Display

Service Dog lends war veteran a helping paw

Man and dog stand beside airplane.

Retired Tech. Sgt. Brandon Jones and his service dog, Apache, pose for a photograph in front of "Golden Bear", a C-141B StarLifter static display, at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., Mar. 30. Jones served 11 years in the U.S. Air Force until he was medically retired due to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He credits his service dog, Apache, for saving his life. Apache is trained to alert him during PTSD triggers and helps him ease through those anxieties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Lilliana Moreno/Released)

Man plays tug-of-war with dog.

Retired Tech. Sgt. Brandon Jones and his service dog, Apache, play a friendly game of tug-of-war at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., March 30, 2018. Jones served 11 years in the Air Force until he was medically retired due to post-traumatic stress disorder. He credits his service dog, Apache, for saving his life. Apache is trained to alert him during PTSD triggers and helps him ease through those anxieties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Lilliana Moreno)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- What if you are screaming for help, but no one can hear you? What if your life starts to crumble? Do you know where to turn or what options are available to veterans and service members?

These are the kinds of questions retired Tech. Sgt. Brandon Jones felt as he reached a breaking point in his military career and decided it was time to reach out to military agencies to get the help he desperately needed.

Growing up in Fayetteville, Georgia, Jones reminisced on his childhood days and his love for airplanes.

“My dad would take me to the store and ask what I wanted for my birthday,” Jones said. “I would always pick an airplane. I just loved them so much.”

His love for airplanes is what brought him into the Air Force where he honorably served for 11 years until he was medically retired due to post-traumatic stress disorder.

The National Center for PTSD at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs describes PTSD as a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event.

Jones served seven tours overseas as a logistics planner in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

“The level of stress that the combat tours bring takes a toll on you mentally, physically and psychologically,” he said. “It was hard to come home and adjust.”

Jones said he found himself coming home and being angry all the time. All he wanted was to be left alone.

“I’d often have nightmares and flashbacks about my comrades that didn’t get to come home with me,” Jones said. “I’d feel guilty, and I kept asking myself what I could have done differently?”

After years of silence, he decided it was time to seek help. He reached out to the local chaplain and visited the mental health office.

“I desperately needed help,” he said. “I was figuratively drowning and I needed a helping hand.”

While searching online for answers or others who might be going through the same problems, Jones found the link to a website for service dogs. He reached out to Carol Borden, founder and executive director of Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs in Williston, Florida, hoping he could find the answer he had been looking for.

“My medications weren’t doing it for me, my counselors weren’t doing it for me and the therapy wasn’t doing it for me,” Jones said.

Individually-trained medical service dogs can be obtained through non-profit organizations such as Guardian Angels, Freedom Service Dogs, K9s For Warriors and many other organizations who rescue, raise, train and then donate these service dogs to veterans.

After reviewing his application, Borden decided he was the right candidate to receive a service dog.

“I want to make it possible for people like Brandon to get the help they need through our amazing dogs,” Borden said. “We custom train each one of our dogs to mitigate the challenges that someone might be having.”

Jones visited the dog farm weekly while waiting to be paired with the right service dog. He needed a service dog that could alert him during PTSD triggers and help him ease through those anxieties.

“Never did I think that I would have a dog that would help me get back to a stable life,” Jones said. “If I’m having nightmares, he will literally come and lick me until I wake up. When he senses an anxiety attack, he will put himself on me and he will force me to pet him.”

Jones credits his service dog, Apache, for saving his life.

“It’s been a life-changing experience for me,” he said. “He is the reason why I can go outside now. He is the reason why I can interact with people and, most importantly, I can spend time with my family again.”

Jones urges others who may be going through a similar situation to reach out to military agencies that can help them get PTSD treatment. “If one option doesn’t work, there is always something else available,” he said. “For me, the answer was getting a service dog. But every person heals differently, find what works for you and know there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

No matter where you live, PTSD treatment in the Department of Veterans Affairs is available. According to the National Center for PTSD, each medical center within Veterans Affairs has PTSD specialists who provide treatment for veterans with PTSD. There are nearly 200 specialized PTSD treatment programs throughout the country.

Engage

Twitter
Hear why this #Airman chose to get vaccinated. @SecAFOfficial directed the COVID-19 vaccine implementation guideli… https://t.co/154QECoeXk
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Doing frequent mental health check-ins could make a big difference in building resiliency. Promote wellness within yourself…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Every time I look at "Wings Through Time” by Robert Emerson Bell it’s a constant reminder that the ability to accelerate…
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: If you need help or know someone who needs help - text 838255 or call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the Military Crisis Line. Let…
Twitter
RT @US_TRANSCOM: A @usairforce KC-135 refuels a B-2 Spirit in @US_EUCOM during a bomber task force mission.Tankers fuel the required reach…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: A senior leader message during #SuicidePreventionMonth: "You are our greatest strength and the beating heart of our Air…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Congratulations to the @USAirForce’s 12 Outstanding #Airmen of the Year on earning recognition as exemplary performers i…
Twitter
RT @RealAFOSI: 1/ #DidYouKnow Sept. is Insider Threat Awareness Month? No environment is immune from the threat posed by trusted insiders.…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Sharene and I take the caring and well-being of our Airmen and their families very seriously. Thank you @AirForceAssoc fo…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Everyone wants to make their mark on the world. But why make just one? https://t.co/g1iX4pzU9b
Twitter
10 years have passed since #DontAskDontTell was repealed. @UnderSecAF Gina Ortiz Jones celebrated the milestone by… https://t.co/i1kTNvykzM
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: It’s going to take all of our Airmen, Active-duty, Reserve and Guard to secure this nation’s future. https://t.co/4P3CUiQ…
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: A few years ago, only two small businesses joined us at AFA--this year we have 40+. @AFWERX works with these companies ever…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF is meeting with defense industry leaders today during the @AirForceAssoc’s #ASC21 events. In his #OneTeamOneFigh
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Our rate of change needs to increase. We must move with a sense of urgency today in order to rise to the challenges of to…
Twitter
.@AETCommand is working to remove barriers in the pilot candidate selection process. Learn more about the changes… https://t.co/ANcqVRdsNz
Twitter
.@UnderSecAF Gina Ortiz Jones spoke on the anniversary of DADT... https://t.co/zZYqHOTp8V
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: "We are in a national, strategic, long-term contest with a formidable adversary and what you do every day is important t…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,377,700
Follow Us