The story of Lt. Col (ret) Jay Kopelman and Lava, the dog he rescued from the war-torn streets of Fallujah, made headlines when the then-active serviceman fought to bring the dog home. He wrote an inspirational book about that. Now in From Baghdad to America, Life Lessons From a Dog Named Lava, Kopelman writes about both have adopted to civilian life near San Diego. And about how they both suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.
Because PTSD among our returning servicemen and women is such an important but often overlooked issue, I've invited Kopelman to be my guest on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com Thursday July 3.
Kopelman began his military career in the U.S. Navy in 1985. He transferred to the Marine Corps in 1992 where he trained to become a forward air controller and earned his gold naval parachutist wings while assigned to 1st Air/Naval Gunfire Liaison Company.
In 1996, Kopelman left active duty to pursue opportunities in the Internet and financial services industries. He stayed active in the Marine Corps Reserve, and was recalled to active duty after September 11. During his career, Kopelman has made multiple overseas deployments to Okinawa, Kuwait, Jordan, Qatar, and twice to Iraq, participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
In September 2004, as the special operations forces liaison officer for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Kopelman deployed to Iraq to train the Iraqi Special Forces. In October he was assigned as the liaison officer to an Iraqi Army battalion, and in November they entered Fallujah to battle insurgents for control of the city. It was there that he met and adopted Lava, a five-week-old puppy abandoned during the days before the invasion.
Following his return to the United States, based on his experiences in Iraq, Kopelman was asked to help train the Marines who would return to Iraq as advisors to the Iraqi armed forces and police.
Kopelman is a competitive bicyclist. Healso contributes his time and Lava's name recognition to the Helen Woodward Animal Center and Canine Companions for Independence to help raise awareness and money for abandoned and assistance animals. He also recently served on the board of directors of the Enduring Freedom Killed In Action Fund, an organization that provides grants to survivors of military members who are killed in action in the war on terror, but whose benefits are "lost" in the system. Kopelman donates a portion of his book proceeds to the Enduring Freedom Killed in Action Fund and the Freedom is Not Free Fund.