Long Island’s Robert Misseri is co-founder of the non-profit organization, Paws of War. The goal of his organization is to train and place shelter dogs with U.S. veterans who suffer from the varying effects of war. By placing dogs with veterans, Paws of War hopes to provide independence for the veterans along with unconditional love and a therapeutic experience.
Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon took note of the success of Jaws of War and asked Misseri to create a program for veterans in Suffolk County jail.
Harry Stolberg joined the United States Marine Corps in 1994, at the age of 17, and was part of a rapid response team that responded to incidents in Haiti and Africa. He suffered a serious injury to his right knee, leading to the end of his military career. Post-military, Stolberg studied to become a paramedic and has been working in New York and Long Island for 20 years.
Stolberg, a single father and veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, has fostered dogs for veterans in need and offered himself as a peer supporter and organized trips to fellow veterans. Stolberg will participate in training for the next eight weeks alongside a veteran currently serving time to solidify the relationship.
Soon, Paws of War found Rocky, a two-year-old black Labrador, at the Southampton Animal Shelter. It was a joint effort between staff at the county jail and members of Paws of War to find a veteran and a dog willing to work together.
The inmate, whose first name is Jermaine and whose last name has been withheld, spent 10 years in the U.S. Army, where he rose to rank of sergeant and was deployed for two combat tours. Jermaine, who suffers from PTSD, will work with Rocky for the next eight weeks. The veteran said he believed his PTSD is what ultimately resulted in his incarceration.
Jermaine has been actively participating in the Veteran Program Pod in Yaphank jail since January. He is eager to help fellow veterans, loves dogs, and can’t wait to train Rocky to give back to the veteran community he loves so much.
At the end of the eight weeks, Jermaine will receive a certificate and possibly work for Paws of War upon being released from jail.