From Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston and Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs
NAVAL CONSOLIDATED BRIG CHARLESTON, S.C. – Partnering with a local non-profit organization, Naval Consolidated Brig (NAVCONBRIG) Charleston presented its first prisoner-trained service dog to a wounded service member Nov. 18.
NAVCONBRIG Charleston and Caroline Canines for Service (CCFS) presented the service dog to Marine Sgt. Brian Jarrell, who served in both Haiti and Fallujah, Iraq, and is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Jarrell's nightmares were so severe that he rarely slept more than a couple hours at a time. Bouts of anger, insomnia and anxiety would collide inside his head, leading back to what he saw during his combat time in Iraq. "That was probably the best night's sleep I've had in years," he said, relating the comfort 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,” Jarrell said. “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 Carolina Canines 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, North Carolina, and was moved to NAVCONBRIG Charleston in September.
"At the Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston we have military prisoners and we use those prisoners - they are the trainers," said 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. They 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 had 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,” Jarrell said. “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.”
For more information about Carolina Canines for Service, visit www.carolinacanines.org. For more information about Navy consolidated brigs, visit Navy Personnel Command’s Corrections and Programs website at www.npc.navy.mil/CommandSupport/CorrectionsandPrograms/