Like all Americans, 9/11 shook JR to the core with the images of our country under attack. He was working two hours north of NYC when the world as we knew it was changed forever. Two months later he shipped out to Parris Island for bootcamp, just as his grandfather and uncle did before him.
In 2002, JR was one of two Marines selected out of his Military Police class to attend the Military Working Dog (MWD) Canine Handlers Course in San Antonio, TX. This is where his love for dogs was born. In 2003, he deployed with a drug detection MWD to the El Paso, TX border region in support of US Customs and Border Protection’s drug interdiction mission. Then in 2004, JR deployed with an explosive detection MWD in support of 1st Battalion 2nd Marines and the 155th Mississippi National Guard in and around Iskandariya, Iraq. With the help of his MWD Benny, they found numerous IEDs, VBIEDs, suicide vests, and weapons caches.
After completing his enlistment in 2005, JR returned home only to redeploy to Iraq, like many combat Veterans, as a contractor in support of the US Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Office of High Threat Protection. He was contracted to protect US Diplomats until he was injured in a training accident in late 2007. After the realization that the injuries he sustained would prevent him from any further deployment, JR returned to upstate NY and began to pursue his higher education. He attended Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Business under the Post 9/11 GI Bill and served an internship with Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle of New York’s 25th congressional district. During this internship, JR developed his passion for giving back to the Veteran community.
JR then transitioned from training working dogs to training service dogs for Veterans. During this process, he worked closely with an organization in Utah called Labs for Liberty (L4L), which focuses on providing high-quality service dogs to our Special Operations Community. During the time he spent in Utah, pairing Veterans with their service dogs, JR began to notice the important role that being outdoors and around other Veterans played in his own personal recovery. Coming home from war is hard. Coming home from war and feeling isolated and alone is unbearable. Having lost more friends and co-workers to suicide than he did in combat has severely taken its toll, and JR decided there had to be something more he could do. In response, JR took these positive experiences he had through L4L and brought them to his own backyard, in hopes that what has helped him will help others.
In 2019, JR and his wife, Stephanie, decided to create their own organization, which propelled them to bringing in like-minded individuals from the local business community to create Operation Patriots FOB. This organization has been a long-time dream of JR’s, as his true passion lies with helping Veterans at home to move onto their next chapter of life.
JR is married to Stephanie Brown and has two daughters, Isabella and Elliana. He enjoys including his girls in his outdoor passions.
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