Current Events

Title:Dogs in need serving disabled veterans

Author:Michelle Brooks - Jefferson City News-Tribune

Date:December 2014

Source:Used with permission from © 2014 Stars and Stripes.

Volume:Volume 3 Issue 101

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Once a SWAT team commander, Mark Brummit returned to civilian life with a VA 100-percent disability, but a dedicated desire to continue serving others.

He turned his familiarity with dog training into the not-for-profit Who Saved Who?, giving disabled veterans a canine companion, saved from area shelters. And then, he joined the ministry at Cavalry Baptist Church in Jefferson City, where he will be ordained next month, organizing food collections and a homeless ministry.

"My heart goes out to veterans," Brummit told the Jefferson City News-Tribune. "I care about the welfare of veterans and of people in general."

Although these good turns were fulfilling his need to serve, he still struggled to provide for his family the way he had in the military.

Then, an unlikely program selected him for three months training in computer database systems.

"I didn't expect a response; I sent in my application because of the reason for what they're doing for veterans, not what the training was about," Brummit said. "My last job was a SWAT team commander, I'm not a technology person."

The NS2 Serves took more than 1,500 applications for its second, 11-week training session, interviewed about 600 and graduated only 20 recently.

"It was the most intense, intellectual training I have ever received," Brummit said.

The NS2 provided the skills and the connections to find a well-paying position in a high-demand field, he said.

"Without this challenge, I would not be going into a field that will change my life," said Brummit, 32.

He had been involved with security throughout his 13-year career with the U.S. Army, in anti-terrorism, intelligence and response teams.

"I'm not able to do the jobs I was trained for" due to injuries, he said.

Now, he will bring his leadership and security experience to a new employer. And that new employer will enable him to continue his desire to serve others while also providing for his family — wife, Sabra, and children Tia, 11, and Mark, 5.

"I get emotional when I think of what I will be able to do for my family now," he said. "I will actually have a savings account with money in it."

While a drill sergeant at Fort Leonard Wood from 2007-09, he started a German Shepherd breeding program and became a certified dog trainer. He had to sell that business when he was reassigned to Fort Stewart, Georgia. Then, he started training civilians and their dogs for defense or behavior.

He met a wheelchair-confined veteran who wanted to train his dog as a service dog. Although that man's dog did not have the temperament to complete the training, the experience showed Brummit a need where he could help.

The first soldier Brummit helped through Who's Serving Who? was a Mid-Missourian, who saw Brummit had a service dog at the Truman VA Hospital.

"Within three months after I placed a dog with this veteran, who has severe PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), his entire mental issues were diminished significantly," Brummit said. "He had become a new person."

With the help of training and job placement through the NS2 Serves, Brummit also is a new person. And he will be able to help match more veterans with dogs needing homes, with his future income as well as the widespread awareness that hopefully will yield future donations.

"The NS2 is providing me the ability to do amazing things," Brummit said.

NS2 Serves is an independent, nonprofit organization established by SAP National Security Services Inc. to give back to the people of the U.S. national security community by offering training and employment assistance to recent veterans of U.S. national security missions.

Full-time, paid participants are trained in world-class software solutions that support U.S. national security, leading to certifications that are valuable in many career paths in the U.S. and worldwide.

The program is geared toward veterans without college degrees, and in three months gives them enough IT and management skills for an average starting salary of $60,000 from the first class of 17 graduates.

The post-9/11 veterans unemployment rate has been above the national average for the last five years, at 8.1 percent as of August.

Applications for the March 2015 NS2 Serves training course are being taken now. Any post-9/11 U.S. military service veteran with a high school diploma or GED, who is within three years of his date of separation, is eligible to apply.

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