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Wounded veteran receives first prisoner trained service dog
Navy Cmdr. Raymond Drake gives his opening remarks about the Service Dog Program while at the Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston Nov. 18, 2010, on Joint Base Charleston-Weapons Station. The Service Dog Program, which works in partnership with Carolina Canines for Service, placed its first prisoner trained service dog with a wounded veteran. The Carolina Canines for Service is a non-profit health and human services organization that trains service dogs for people with disabilities. Commander Drake is the commanding officer for Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston. (U.S. Air Force photo/James M. Bowman)
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Brig work helps wounded service members

Posted 11/22/2010   Updated 12/1/2010 Email story   Print story


by From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

11/22/2010 - NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C -- Partnering with a local non-profit organization, Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston, S.C., presented its first prisoner-trained service dog to a wounded service member recently.

NAVCONBRIG Charleston and Caroline Canines for Service presented the service dog to Marine Corps Sgt. Brian Jarrell, who served in both Haiti and Fallujah, Iraq, and is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

"That was probably the best night's sleep I've had in years," said Sergeant Jarrell, talking about the comfort his new service dog, Jada, instinctively provided him.

"One of the symptoms of my PTSD is that I'm very untrusting of people; I'm a loner, I want to be alone. I have a hard time accepting people into my life," said Sergeant Jarrell. "With the dog, I know she loves me without question, and it's a calming feeling. And she's an ice-breaker, which makes it easier for me to interact with people."

The service-dog program is a brig prisoner work program that assists military and federal agencies, while furnishing skill-training to the prisoners. In 2008, the CCFS launched a national program, Carolina Canines for Veterans, to train dogs rescued from local shelters to assist wounded veterans. The effort began at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Brig, in North Carolina and was moved to NAVCONBRIG Charleston in September 2010.

"At the Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston, we have military prisoners, and we use those prisoners - they are the trainers," said NAVCONBRIG Charleston Commanding Officer Cmdr. Raymond Drake.

"It is an opportunity for the prisoner to give something back," said William Peck, director of Navy Corrections and Programs, Naval Personnel Command.

The service dog is molded into a constant companion that can perform more than 70 tasks for the wounded veteran, including retrieving and carrying objects, opening doors, helping with stress and balance difficulties, as well as providing a bridge back into society. The service dogs can also:

- Pull their partner in a wheelchair, push elevator buttons and even transfer money at the grocery store.
- Furnish social support by acting as a link to conversation and acceptance. When a service dog accompanies a wounded veteran, the focus is on the dog, not the disability.
- Provide balance and stability for an amputee or someone who has lost mobility.
- Be a source of love and companionship. Both the veteran and the dog are a team and make the transition back to independence together.

Operating entirely on private donations, the program currently has 10 prisoners training eight dogs. As of July 2010, the organization provided $400,000 worth of services to veterans.

"If other veterans out there can learn from me, that PTSD is a very real issue, then perhaps they'll go get treatment for it," said Sergeant Jarrell. "I was lucky that I had a good friend in my chain of command that recognized I needed help and looked out for me. Now I'm looking forward to taking my dog home."

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