Operation: Copilot (Service Dog)

Welcome to Operation: Copilot!

Operation: Copilot is a page dedicated to helping a disabled Marine Corps Veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Despite 5 surgeries, countless procedures, and years of medical treatment, a service dog has become a necessary support for J and his family. The service dog would provide the assistance J requires for physical disabilities, a mild TBI, and PTSD occurring from his service.

J is living with nerve damage, TBI/balance issues, chronic pain and other past injuries, as well as emotional scars from PTSD. A service dog would become part of his support team and family, assisting him in daily routines, improving his memory and mood, and decreasing anxiety in social situations. Most importantly, a service dog will allow J to continue to heal, productively continue his various treatments, reintegrate himself into society, and be the supportive husband and father his family deserves.

J has been accepted to a program that will generously provide him with a service dog help his disabilities. In order to travel and attend the required training, J and his family must cover other costs, including travel, expenses, and unpaid time off from work. Any donated funds remaining after that will be donated to the organization providing a service dog to J.

To learn more about J and his family, please read their story below written by family friend, Jessica Morello.

Thank you! We appreciate your support and can't do this alone!

 

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When saying thank you doesn't seem like enough, taking action seems like the next best thing. I am fortunate to be friends with an amazing couple. Fate brought them into my life in the least expected way. My oldest daughter was blessed to have an amazing fourth grade teacher named Brianne. She later became my youngest daughters tutor. From there she became one of my dearest friends. J and Brianne are the nicest people, who believe in doing the right thing, who put God, family and friends first, and who have big hearts that allow them to give to others. This is a time in their life that I want to help give to them.

J is a United States Marine Corps Veteran. I thank him for his service and sacrifice. Every day we are given the opportunity to say thank you to those Americans who put their lives on the line and the families that support them. J is just one of many veterans who has needs. I want to honor him and his family by being the type of American who is taking the time, hoping I can make a difference in a small way. Let me tell you a bit about J and show you his career and devotion to the United States.

J wanted to be a Marine since he was a small child, to serve his country and gain life skills. He took that first step by enlisting in the Marines before 9/11 and embarked on his journey, wanting to make his career that of a Marine. J deployed as a result of the events of 9/11. That experience and service forever changed his life. After sustaining multiple injuries during that time, he had to give up his aspirations to be a career Marine and was honorably discharged as a result of his injuries in 2003.

The next part of his journey included a long and rigorous path towards the process of recovery. Struggling with the events in his recent past and living alone with the constant need to isolate himself, J began to feel defeated by his injuries and did not see a future filled with a successful career, a wife or children as he did not want to share his trauma or pain. While it was very difficult, he continued his selfless approach protecting others by keeping himself and his pain private.

While passing time in pain, giving less and less hope towards his future, J developed a much needed, healing relationship with a dog named Ambush. He helped J physically and gave him companionship, purpose and protection. It was the type of connection that J was familiar with and had experienced with his fellow Marines. That idea that someone had your back and was in your corner was just what Ambush gave him and just what J needed. Ambush was now in J's corner and the only thing at the time keeping him centered.

In 2010 after many years of struggling, he met someone who would change his life forever and make him feel alive again. Her name is Brianne, and she stuck with him despite the daily struggles he experienced as a disabled veteran. The continuous love and support she showed him began to slowly chisel away at the walls he had built around him during the past 7 years since leaving the Marines. Brianne became J's wife, making him feel complete in ways he had not let himself imagine. He had not felt so fulfilled since graduating boot camp, a feeling he never thought he would be allowed to feel again.

Unfamiliar with the constant emotional and physical support, he started to experience happiness something he never thought he could experience or that he deserved. She encouraged him to return to a path of seeking treatment and with Brianne in his corner J returned to the Veterans Administration. Sadly after another valiant effort and 4 years of treatment with mixed results, they agreed to make the financial sacrifices necessary to seek private medical care for his disabilities and constant physical pain. J really needed to use private medical care to achieve appropriate care and reliable, consistent treatment schedules. At this time, Brianne also chose to give up her career as an educator to care for J, managing appointments, care, and treatment. It was another difficult decision in a series of many that they faced together.

J also faced another blow when his trusted companion Ambush passed away. It was a unique relationship that J had depended on and a void that could not easily be filled. Over time J met other Veterans who had service dogs, and he realized that not only could a service dog help him in all the ways Ambush had, but a trained, specialized service dog would understand J's needs and could change his life and the lives of his family. Brianne and J realized a service dog would be the next necessary step to continue his treatment and to help him continue to adjust to his daily life, facing situations in society that had become difficult. Brianne and J did try to save money to get a service dog. Every time they thought they were on the right path and could focus on their goals, another medical issue would require treatment, surgery, or time off from work, taking saved funds right out of their hands.

Recently, J had the biggest reason ever to try to figure out a way to successfully navigate through life and through the pitfalls he faced each day as a disabled veteran. He was given the beautiful gift of family. A family that had just started with him and Brianne became a family of three with the birth of their first child. J was and is now determined to conquer and adapt, wanting to be an active, participating part of his daughter’s life. A service dog was never more necessary for him; J doesn’t want to miss important moments and needs the necessary support of a service dog to go about each day through society, prepared with assistance to face challenges that come with basic routines.

As a friend who knew how much struggle they were facing and knew that I couldn’t possibly even begin to grasp the everyday frustrations and challenges, I just couldn’t sit by. I had heard so many stories about veterans who were struggling and after everything they sacrificed, I had a veteran right in my life who I could try and help.

I know raising money isn’t easy. No one likes to ask for money. Half tof the time when someone owes us money we don’t want to ask for it. But I am asking for donations for J and his family. I am asking for any little bit you can donate. If you can’t donate please consider sharing J's needs and his story with friends and family. Help me make a difference and spread the word.

These funds would cover all transportation, hotel, and training necessary with a service dog. It would also support the family during unpaid leave for training. If we are blessed enough to reach this goal and there are remaining funds we would donate them to the facility where J would get his service dog.

Help me give J a second chance at a different kind of life, one without so much pain and struggle. J chooses to continue working full-time and gives everything he has to get through each day with all the physical challenges that come with the basic everyday things we all take for granted. No matter what J faces, he strives to be the best husband and father possible. He feels very lucky to still be here, as he lost friends he served with both during his time in the Marines and in the years that have passed.

I would like to give J a standing ovation, like you see at baseball games, when we appreciate our men and women in the military. I would like to stand side-by-side with other Americans and say thank you J for what you gave up and went through. I want to do all of this by raising the funds needed to get a service dog that will forever change his life and the life of his family. Please help me do this by donating.  Help me spread the word.  Every little bit contributes to the end goal!

Thank you!

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Organizer

Jessica Morello 
Organizer
Stafford, VA
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