Local Hero Has Hero of His Own

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MCpl (ret) Joseph Kelly has more than 19 years’ service with the Canadian Armed Forces as both an Artillery Soldier and an Electronic/Optronic Technician. His service has covered flood assistance, ice storms and also as part of the salvage and recovery crew for Swissair Flight 111 plane crash in Peggy’s Cove in 1998. MCpl Kelly’s international service included tours in both Bosnia and Afghanistan. He has recently moved back to his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie with his wife and daughters.

Joe Kelly and Freddie
Joe Kelly and Freddie

Joe, as his close friends call him, incurred an Operational Stress Injury which resulted in his diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Suffering for so many years in silence, MCpl Kelly finally sought the help he needed and began to rebuild his life. Joe has chosen to be very open and public about his battle with PTSD because so many of his service brothers and sisters have lost their own fight against an enemy that no one else understands.

During the journey back from PTSD, Joe was introduced to an organization called Courageous Companions. This organization is one of a kind in this country. Soldiers, like Joe, are provided these service dogs who are trained to the highest of standards to assist those who have suffered from physical or mental injuries while in the line of duty. The value of these dogs to the soldiers who depend on them in immeasurable, but the costs associated with training can rise into the thousands of dollars. The costs include personalized training for the injured soldiers’ specific needs and also the time investment to ensure that the soldier receiving the dog can continue to develop a relationship of trust and training after the dog leave Courageous Companions for their forever home. These dogs are provided to their soldiers for FREE. There is zero cost to the receiving solider.

Joe would love to introduce Sault Ste. Marie to Freddie. Freddie is a very handsome 4 ½ year old Golden Lab who has not only changed Joe’s life, but he has saved it, too. Freddie came to live with MCpl Kelly two years ago while stationed at Canadian Forces Base Shilo, and they have been inseparable ever since. Joe’s family has credited Courageous Companions with saving all of them from the constant darkness of PTSD.

A Courageous Companions Elite K-9 Service dog, is not just any service dog but a specifically molded Service dog trained by an organization that has four service dogs nominated and two inducted into the Purina Animal Hall Of Fame as “Service Dog of The Year”. Some fields that our Elite Service K-9′s operate in are: Autism, Bi-Polar Disorder, Seizure detection, Assistance, Liscencephily, Allergy Detection, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Hearing Impaired or Deaf Assistance. Freddie is a very proud graduate of the Courageous Companions program and has served MCpl Kelly ever since.

Joe and his family know that he is not alone in suffering from PTSD. He also knows all too well that an organization like Courageous Companions wants to keep helping soldiers like him who continue to fight a war long after they have returned home.

If you would like to help this organization and also support our injured servicemen and servicewomen like Freddie and Joe, there are two ways to do this. Joe’s very proud military wife and best friend, Shari is planning a very low key and intimate retirement dinner with some of Joe’s closest friends and supporters on February 7, 2015. This will not be a public event in order to respect Joe’s comfort levels; however, all of Joe’s friends and supporters wanted to give the people and businesses of Sault Ste. Marie the opportunity to support Courageous Companions through donations that could be raffled off during the retirement dinner, or by donating to Courageous Companions, directly at www.courageouscompanions.ca. 100% of all proceeds from the dinner and any raffle ticket sales will be going to Courageous Companions to ensure that more soldiers receive lifesaving assistance dogs like Freddie.

If any businesses or individuals wish to receive more information, please contact Shari Dewar, MCpl Joe Kelly’s devoted service wife, biggest supporter of Joe and Freddie at: sharid7@hotmail.com or (204) 720-7613

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