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Review for Dogs 4 Warriors, Bowerston, OH, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

My name is Michael Maresh. Dogs 4 Warriors has literally changed my life in so many different ways that it is almost impossible for me to remember and list them all.

I enlisted in the Ohio Army National Guard in April of 2006 and left for OSUT (One Station Unit Training) in October of 2006. I graduated Basic Training and Military Police School in April of 2007. I returned back to my home state of Ohio and was quickly hired as a part time corrections officer in a small city jail. However, shortly after my hire, I was asked by my squad leader if I wanted to go to Afghanistan. There was another MP unit out of Youngstown that was getting ready to deploy and needed bodies that were willing to go. The mission was unknown at time time. Me being 20 years old said; "what else do I have to lose?" So I raised my hand and volunteered to go.

We got to Afghanistan on January 1st of 2008. We all found out what our mission was real quick. They split the entire company up. I ended up being a gunner and manning crew-served weapons systems as a security for for the provincial reconstruction team. Fast forward a few months and I lost a good friend in a IED attack. It became extremely emotional and surreal at that point that I could actually lose my life over there.

When I got home, I thought that that my life I was living was normal but now 9 years later, I see that it was far from it. I carried a firearm wherever I went. I planned my day around people. I would grocery shop and go to the gym late at night just so I didn't have to deal with people. I would never be caught in a crowd of people unless I was with other veterans. I was always hyper-vigilant.

In 2012, I a terrible decision that cost me my career (both military and civilian), my family, and so much more. I spent 3 years in prison. I became associated with the Dogs 4 Warriors organization while incarcerated training service dogs in the prison. I really didn't really understand how a dog could change my life but they made such the difference in the prison.

After release, I was offered an apprenticeship position under Dogs 4 Warriors to work at the compound to train the dogs there, take care of the dogs by feeding, exchanging water, and cleaning out the kennels everyday. Without Sheila and Andy and this organization as a whole, I would be a homeless veteran and just another statistic for the VA and and the Department of Justice.

Dogs 4 Warriors gives me that purpose that I need to get out of bed everyday and to drive on and as we say in the Army "Charlie Mike."

This organization has just done so so much for so many of us....there is no way that I will ever be able to repay them for what they have given me!

Role:  Volunteer