My name is Joel M. Townsend, I’m a combat wounded disabled veteran. I started my service in the MN Army National Guard on Dec of 1996. In 2001 I decided to go active duty. I was slotted to go into the USAF as TAC-P, then September 11, 2001, happened. After September 11th the USAF needed more Security Forces (Military Police). I was offered Security Forces and to be stationed in FL. So, I started my career at the USAF. While in Tech school we ran past the Military Working Dog (MWD) training kennels, and I knew what I wanted to be. I waited the 3 years and was granted my wish to become an MWD Handler. Being a Dog Handler was the best job in the military. I was stationed in the US and overseas and had multiple deployments and Secret Service missions in support of POTUS. My last deployment in support of OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) would be my last. I was attached to the Army in support of the Surge in 2008-2009. I conducted 150 combat missions all over the Baghdad and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, I was hit with several IED’s back-to-back and that was it. After I completed my tour, I came home, and my fate was decided. I finished my enlistment and separated in 2010. Had my first PTS service dog for almost 12 years before he was diagnosed with spleen cancer. In May 2020 Jager was laid to rest. Life wasn’t the same and not having my dog was a struggle for about two years until I was granted my new service dog via Joint Task Force K9s in October 2022. Freyja has help me get back to being better, more productive and the ability to function in society again. She has been a blessing for me and my small family. She is sweet with my kids, loves my wife and is right there when I need her. Being a former handler and understanding how invaluable these dogs are it is nothing short of a miracle and a lifesaving event being a recipient. Thanks to Joint Task Force K9s I have a new lease on life.
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