Service dog changes life of Army veteran with PTSD

- To most Jed is just a dog. To one Twin Cities Army veteran, the bushy-tailed, six-year-old golden retriever is a life line.

Jed helps Carl Ringberg through the trials of everyday life that for someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are far from easy. In fact, Jed steals the hearts of most at Waste Management’s Burnsville Hauling site.

Sparkly eyes, loving stare and sweet face aside, Jed lives to protect Ringberg from the overwhelming symptoms of PTSD.

“Anger issues, emotional numbness, flashbacks, nightmares,” described Ringberg as the conditions he endured silently for two years after he began to transition from his tour in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2013.

“They put me on different pills, try this one, that didn’t work, try this one that wouldn’t work,” Ringberg told FOX 9 of his initial attempts to recover. “I decided on my own to find another tool to help with PTSD and that’s where Jed came in.”

Ringberg spent his transitional years researching service dog programs and finally found Helping Paws. Later, he earned his senior district fleet management position at Waste Management.

“I oversee the shop so there’s a lot of noises, loud noises, but him not being startled or being afraid allows me to stay calm and not be afraid,” he said of Jed’s service companionship.

Yet what makes Carl and Jed’s connection so special is that four years ago Jed also suffered.

“Jed wasn’t going to get placed with Helping Paws; he was kind of dealing with separation anxiety,” he explained.

Until, Jed met Carl.

“When I found him it was kind of a perfect fit because I needed that constant attention, that constant touch and so did he. So we became one right off the bat.”

Naturally, the trauma of Ringberg’s tours at times haunts him as he works as a senior district fleet manager at Waste Management.

“If I’m starting to lose focus Jed kind of nudges me and brings me back to the reality like 'hey I’m here for you,'” Ringberg smiled.

Jed has become an honorary member of the Waste Management team.

“[He’s] the world. He’s my security blanket,” shared Ringberg. “I have five children at home ranging from 16 to 6, so giving him that emotional support they need, giving Jed a hug has been able to get me to reach out and give the kids a hug, [because] with PTSD and the emotional numbness you tend to just push away,” added Ringberg of how Jed helps ease his condition at home.

Ringberg’s vet-friendly work environment at Waste Management also supports his effort to carry out his passion of helping others with PTSD get connected with Helping Paws.

“There [are] 22 veterans that commit suicide a day. Three that I went to tour with have committed suicide that I knew; that were my brothers in arms,” he said.

And as Jeb and Ringberg’s special connection is welcomed and nurtured at Waste Management, it further serves to remind all veterans that they are never alone.

“To the veterans out there, there’s help out there, get the help you deserve,” encourages Ringberg.

Ringberg is also active with the American Legion, the Minnesota Chapter of the Wounded Warrior Project and over the summer joined the Helping Paws board.

For more information about Helping Paws click here. If you are interested in applying for a service dog through the organization, click here.

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