As team leader, I had to stuff all my feelings down and never talk about them. Staying strong was critically important as the trauma victims depended upon me to help save them. After a while it all became too much for me and I tried to end my life; unsuccessfully.
I told a friend and they took me to get help and I became an outpatient for depression while continuing to work in the trauma clinic. It wasn’t long before I tried again by slicing my elbow down to my wrist. I called my friend and they rushed me to E.R. To make matters worse, I was going through an awful divorce as my wife had been unfaithful and she took my little girl away from me. I knew I had to figure out a way to get well and stay around for my daughter.
I began volunteering at Mission 22 to help other Veterans wanting to commit suicide, and started a new relationship. Even though I was able to stabilize myself, I started isolating again and my depression crept back in, and I couldn’t go out in public or engage with people. I only went to grocery stores and went to school for Forensics. I was on 18 medications!
Then, one fateful day, Ryan, from Semper Fi Service Dogs, went to girlfriend’s store and shared about his work. She loved what he was doing and had Ryan reach out to me and he invited me to meet with him to see how he trained Rescue dogs for Veterans. It was incredible. I got a service dog named Ruger; who changed my life. He helped me get back into life and feel comfortable in stores and around people and calms me down as soon as he senses any panic by applying deep pressure on me. My knees, hips, and back are bad so Ruger also helps me get off the ground. I don’t know where I would be without him. Today, I am only on a few medications, thanks to Ruger and Semper Fi Service Dogs.
I really clicked with Ryan and we became best friends. I recognized a true passion when training my dog with Ryan and wanted to get involved to become one of his
trainers. Now, I get to help others & prevent the Veterans from committing suicide.
I understand what they are going through and recognize their deep fears and depression. I am passionate about helping to guide them out of that dark tunnel towards the light. I joined the Semper Fi Service Dog team and even though I don’t get paid as we are a non-profit, I do it for the love of it. We work hard to ensure a Perfect fit for both the Veteran & dog and have created a family for all the Veterans to be a part of. We are so much more than an organization. Our Vets can count on us to always be there for them emotionally, physically, and in every other way. As we say in the military…I’ve got your IGY6.Today, my life is better than ever.”
~ Jonathan Musgrave - U.S.Navy
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