My Name Is

My Name Is: Jennifer DiLuzio

Veteran and K9s For Warriors partner

Posted 11/7/17

About me

I grew up in Binghamton, in upstate New York, and have lived in Lakewood for more than five years. It’s my favorite city around Denver because it’s so close to Red Rocks, Green Mountain trails, downtown and the mountains.

I am a …

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My Name Is

My Name Is: Jennifer DiLuzio

Veteran and K9s For Warriors partner

Posted

About me

I grew up in Binghamton, in upstate New York, and have lived in Lakewood for more than five years. It’s my favorite city around Denver because it’s so close to Red Rocks, Green Mountain trails, downtown and the mountains.

I am a student at DU working on my degree in Fine Arts and Marketing, and I’m currently the marketing director and event coordinator for a new restaurant and sports bar, The Kennedy Station. My hobbies are anything that has to do with arts and crafts. I am also a huge music lover and of course, I love spending time with my best friend, Stryker.

I have a beautiful 14-year-old daughter who is a spitting image of me. She loves music and art just as much as I do.

Joining the military

I joined the United States Army at 16 years old but was put on the Delayed Entry Program until I turned 18. I left for Basic Training in September of 2000.

A year after I joined, I was on my way to morning formation when the news of the Twin Towers came on the radio. I was stationed at Fort Hood and I will always remember that day like it was yesterday. It changed my life forever.

My daughter was born in December of 2002, and in August of 2003, I was sent to Korea for a year (or what I thought was going to be year). Instead, my unit was sent to Ramadi, Iraq, in August of 2004. I didn’t see my daughter for two years and she was only eight months old when I left.

During my deployment in Iraq, I was part of a team of females called “The Lionesses” that were specially trained on different weapon systems, vehicle and people searches, and I had to learn some Arabic. I was part of the first free Iraqi elections as well, which is something I will always be very proud of.

Ramadi was hell during those years, and unfortunately, we lost 68 brave men and women during that deployment.

Meeting Stryker

Coming home after two years, a buddy of mine that I had served with showed me this TV show that was about veterans with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries who were being rehabilitated through service dogs. After struggling and trying every medication thrown at me by the VA for eight years, I thought maybe this could help me, too. I did some research and discovered K9s For Warriors. The best part about their program was that not only were the dogs sponsored so we didn’t have to pay for them, but also it didn’t matter what state you lived in to receive a dog.

Stryker Orthopaedics made its first donation to K9s for Warriors to sponsor a service dog in 2015, and since then, the company has made it possible for 11 service dogs, including Stryker, to be rescued, begin their training and eventually get matched with veterans.

My best friend

Trying to reconnect with my daughter, trying to live through the trauma I went through, trying to fight through the night terrors, and not understanding what was wrong with me. I couldn’t go out in public with a lot of people without having panic attacks. I was hostile and irritable, but also afraid, lonely and felt the guilt of surviving when others didn’t — that still weighs heavy on me. I was self-destructive and suicidal, and I lost a lot because of it, including friends, family and relationships.

With Stryker by my side, I feel confident that I will be safe. For the first time in many years, I can finally go shopping and enjoy so many things with my daughter that we never got to do together before. He wakes me up when I’m having nightmares and my medications have drastically been cut down.

I feel like he’s given me a second chance at life that I thought I would never get. I can truly say that I would not be here today if I didn’t have Stryker in my life, and I can’t thank Stryker Orthopaedics enough for sponsoring him and making this all possible.

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