Junk removal company bringing military veterans together for support

March 30, 2018 06:06 PM

The latest shakeup in Washington, the firing of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is raising questions about the future of the agency and the benefits provided to vets across the country.

There's a different kind of veterans organization that recently popped up in the Capital Region -- delivering a benefit that is unaffected by the junk in Washington.


Sometimes, spring cleaning can be too big a job to handle on your own -- Whether it's hauling heaps of heavy junk out of your home, or cleaning out old office or warehouse space -- plenty of people are turning to JDog Junk Removal – a company staffed entirely by former military personnel.

Ray Gagnon is a co-owner of the local JDog franchise. He was a Master Gunnery Sergeant with the United States Marine Corps.

Although junk removal is their game, their specialty is giving vets who've had a tough time re-entering civilian life a chance. Vets like Matthew Brennan.

"The transition was tough," admitted Brennan. "I bounced around from job to job trying to fit in."

Brennan was in the Army and is now in the Reserves. His military duties have included mortician. The 26-year-old has seen a lot. Some days are tough to get through. They are days that were tough on civilian employers.

"I can only explain so much to where they can try to understand, but they don't know where I am coming from," he noted.

Enter JDog and the opportunity to work for and with vets who do know and understand what vets might need to succeed. 

"A man or a woman coming out of military doesn't need to be coddled. They don't need to be babied. They don't need to be told that they're disadvantaged, ‘cause they're not. They need to be understood and people need to understand where their strengths are and we do," acknowledged Gagnon.

"Having someone to talk to and be able to share their experiences and what they can do to cope with their troubling times also mentors me to help me better myself," added Brennan.

JDog's good work doesn't end when their camo-colored trucks fade in the distance. All that junk gets recycled, repurposed or resold.

"Any of the proceeds that we get from those after expenses, we'll donate that money as well to veteran causes, to veteran organizations," pointed out Gagnon. "Our employees to me, they're not employees, they're my fellow soldiers, they're my fellow airmen, they're my fellow sailors and Marines. We're serving the community together now just like we have served in the past."

Gagnon and his partners say they are already planning to expand with at least 36 new locations all across New York State and Connecticut in the not too distant future.


WNYT Staff

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