Spotlight on Veteran Brad Lam

Brad Lam completed the Trauma Resiliency Program at This Able Veteran in the fall of 2022.  At the end of the program, he was paired with his service dog Charity.  Lam says applying for the Trauma Resiliency Program was one of the best decisions he has ever made other than marrying his wife Brooke, whom he has been together with for 15 years.  Brad, Brooke, and Charity live in Carbondale, Illinois.

“I enlisted when I was 17 years old, and my initial goal was to be a career soldier.  I served in the U.S. Army for four years as a heavy equipment repairer.  I was with the 642nd Engineer Battalion in Ft. Devens, Massachusetts, and then with the 326th Engineer Battalion in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.  While there, I attended Air Assault School,” said Lam.

Within two and a half years Lam was promoted to Sergeant .  In 1987, he was deployed to Korea for a year and served with the 44th Engineer Battalion.  Lam decided to ETS from active duty after hearing from his Chief Warrant Officer that the Army was going to downsize.  Lam continued to serve with the Illinois National Guard for two years.  The Army did start downsizing after the Cold War, which affected a lot of soldiers whom Lam served with.

“I made the right choice,” he said.

After Lam left active duty, he was hired as a mechanic for the City of Carbondale.  During this time, he also pursued a childhood dream of becoming a firefighter.

“It took six years before a firefighter position was available and in 1996, I was hired as firefighter.  It was the job I wanted it to be, but later in my career, my body started breaking down, both mentally and physically.  I experienced trauma as a child as well as in the military, and this continued in the fire service where there were also numerous traumatic incidents that started taking a toll on me. I came from the old school of “suck it up” and did not talk about things.  However, during my last three years of fire service, I started having nightmares and more suicidal ideations. My coping mechanisms were to isolate and self-medicate,” said Lam.

In May of 2021, Lam went to a rehab center where the physician diagnosed him with complex PTSD, among other things.  The physician said he was a perfect candidate for a service dog, which resonated with Lam as he has loved dogs throughout his life.

“Brooke and I had already been a strong supporter of This Able Veteran by donating to them throughout the years, so when the doctor told me I could benefit from having a service dog, I immediately thought of This Able Veteran,” said Lam.

Lam shares that he was apprehensive after he was chosen for the class of 2022 because he felt he was not worthy as other veterans who were suffering.

“Even though I did not feel worthy, I was ecstatic about being chosen.  After going through the Trauma Resiliency Program, I can say it topped everything I learned during rehab.  They taught me to live in the moment and learn skills to put my past behind me.  I could not speak more highly of This Able Veteran, and I encourage other veterans to apply for the program,” he said.

For the 2023 Trauma Resiliency Program, Lam served as the class mentor.

“It was an honor to have been asked.”

Lam wants to bring more service-oriented projects into his life.  Lam retired from the City of Carbondale after 32 years. For 25 of those years, he served as a firefighter where he obtained the rank of Captain.  Lam is currently in his fifth term as the Carbondale Township Highway Commissioner.

When he is not doing service work, Lam and Charity enjoy walking, hiking and entering 5ks and 10ks.  Brad and Brooke have a blended family of three adult children and three grandchildren.

If you would like to learn more about This Able Veteran and its mission, please visit To learn how you can support This Able Veteran, visit If you are a veteran or know a veteran who could benefit from This Able Veteran’s services, please contact [email protected].

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Spotlight on This Able Veteran Board President, Jonathan Mitchell

Jonathan Mitchell has served on This Able Veteran’s (TAV) Board of Directors since
2016. He became aware of TAV, a non-profit organization located in southern Illinois,
through his affiliation with Rotary.

“When Phil Gillespie, a former member of TAV’s Board of Directors and fellow Rotarian
told me about this about this great program that helps veterans suffering from PTSD, I
was impressed. As a veteran myself, I thought this organization’s mission was
outstanding, so when he asked me to join the board, I didn’t hesitate,” said Jonathan.
Jonathan says his experiences serving TAV have been enriching.

“TAV is an organization that provides personal and direct support to help veterans in
need. Every year I get to see the substantial impact that TAV makes for the veterans
who are chosen to be part of this program, which is why I continue to proudly serve on
TAV’s Board,” he said.

Jonathan’s has a rich and varied background. Born in Tyler, Texas, he graduated from
Baylor University with a Business degree and a secondary education teaching
certificate. After graduating, he started his professional career with a marketing
company headquartered in St. Louis. Jonathan worked on projects including the 1996
Olympic Torch Relay, the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, and he traveled the
country on projects for K-Mart and Coca-Cola.

After two years of marketing, meeting his wife, and getting married, he returned to
school for a graduate degree and attended law school at the University of Oklahoma.
Immediately after graduation from law school, Jonathan started with the US Navy Judge
Advocate General’s Corps and his first duty locations were at Naval Air Station
Jacksonville, Florida and at Naval Station Mayport, Florida. After five years of active
duty, he transitioned into the Navy Reserve and he and his wife, and their two
daughters, moved to southern Illinois where he has practiced law in the civilian sector
since 2005 while continuing to serve in the US Navy Reserve. He is currently the
Managing Partner for Feirich/Mager/Green/Ryan law firm in Carbondale, Illinois, where
he has a general practice, but focuses on corporate law and civil litigation.

With almost 23 years of military service, Jonathan currently is a Captain serving as the
Commanding Officer of the Navy Reserve Region Legal Service Midwest at Naval
Station Great Lakes.

“The Navy has allowed me to travel the globe and it has opened doors for me
throughout my life. During my active and reserve career, I have served at locations
across the US and in Afghanistan, Iraq, Cuba, Bahrain, Italy, and Japan,” he said.

Jonathan has always had an affinity for dogs, which also helped him relate well with
This Able Veteran.

“I had a Labrador Retriever for the past nine years named Cash, who
unfortunately passed away in 2022. Cash was a two-time champion of the Splash Dogs
retriever jumping contest at John A. Logan Community College Fishing and Hunting
Days. He was a member of the family and a smart and loyal friend,” said Jonathan.
For the dogs TAV trains each year, Jonathan says he stands in awe watching the
trainers train the dogs for the veterans.

“I have a tremendous amount of pride and joy observing Behesha Doan, founder of This
Able Veteran, and the trainers work and teach the dogs with the goal of pairing each
dog with a veteran in need. Even though I have seen the fully-trained dogs many times
in the past seven years, I continue to find it amazing to watch the service dogs work
with and support their veterans,” he said.

Jonathan’s wife, Christie Mitchell, is a lecturer at Southern Illinois University in
Carbondale, Illinois and teaches in the marketing department of the SIU School of
Business. They have two daughters, Annie and Grace, who are both currently attending
the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. Jonathan says in his spare time, he
enjoys exercise, golf, and spending time with friends and family.

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