Veteran Marine Sergeant Jeremiah Marcum served five deployments throughout his 11 years of services in the United States Marine Corp. Sergeant Marcum’s tours of duty took him around the world, including Afghanistan, Cuba, and Iraq. He was a member of the Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST), 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines. He was also part of the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines which is now deactivated. The last three years of his career were spent at Camp Lejeune in the Wounded Warrior Battalion.
Sacrifices For His Country Changed His Life, But Four Legs And A Tail Would Change It Again
Sergeant Marcum’s military service changed his life. And, despite his retirement in 2014, this hero’s life was changed yet again when he met his new best friend, Bobby, on September 9th. Bobby is a nearly 2-year-old Golden Retriever who was paired with Sergeant Marcum by K9s for Warriors. Bobby has been specially trained to help Sergeant Marcum cope with the lasting effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Sergeant Marcum told JDNews.com that there was no specific event during his military career that triggered his PTSD. He believes it is a result of his service as a whole. The final straw for him was spending all of 2011 in Afghanistan, which proved to be particularly challenging.
“I was involved in 14 different IED explosions, and in Afghanistan, there were two different IEDs within three hours,” Sergeant Marcum told JDNews.com.
There Had To Be Something More
Military spouses are no strangers to the toll that combat takes on their loved ones. Sergeant Marcum’s wife was the first to notice changes in him after he returned home from his third deployment. He began having trouble tolerating crowds and certain noises bothered him. Sleep was fleeting and anger infiltrated everyday life. Doctors prescribed one medication after another before Sergeant Marcum decided there had to be a better solution.
“I was on so many meds, on fistfuls of pills, and I wanted something else to deal with the anxiety and depression,” Marcum said.
The possibility of a service dog entered his mind so he found K9s for Warriors and applied to be matched.
K9s for Warriors is the largest provider in the nation for service dogs for veterans. They work with post-9/11 veterans who have suffered PTSD, military sexual trauma or traumatic brain injuries. The goal is to help them gain independence and return to civilian life with dignity.
According to K9s for Warriors, about 700,000, or 20% of post-9/11 veterans suffer from PTSD. The effects of PTSD can last a lifetime and unfortunately, many veterans’ lives are cut short as a result. In recent years, suicide has killed more American veterans than the war itself. It’s a tragic reality that K9s for Warriors is hoping to change.
Two Lives Saved
The dogs at K9s for Warriors are trained before they are paired with a veteran. Then the pair trains together at one of the K9s for Warriors facilities. They complete 120 hours of training together which provides a great opportunity for the pair to bond.
Sergeant Marcum admits he wasn’t so sure about the idea of a service dog initially. That changed once he laid eyes on Bobby.
“I went into this kind of skeptical,” he said. “I knew it worked for other people but in my mind, I would be the one it didn’t help… As soon as I saw him, something clicked and he’s been my go-to guy ever since,” Sergeant Marcum said.
Bobby has enabled Sergeant Marcum to find joy in everyday life again. The pair have been able to go to events, shop for groceries, and they were even groomsmen together at a wedding!
Sergeant Marcum isn’t the only one to have a new chance at life. Bobby gained an entire family of his own complete with Sergeant Marcum’s wife, Janice, and their three children; Ethan, 14; Chase, 10; and Madison, 8.
Perhaps one of the greatest things about K9s for Warriors is that they are actually saving two lives at once. Nearly all of the dogs they train are rescued from shelters! As of October 2019, the non-profit has rescued more than 1,000 dogs and successfully paired almost 600 warriors and canines.
If you’re interested in helping K9s for Warriors, information can be found here.
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