CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For the last few weeks, NewsChannel 5 has asked viewers to nominate a veteran who deserves an extra salute. Our winner is tackling some of the biggest issues facing veterans in a way only those who have served know-how.
Dustin Maxfield retired from the 160th Special Operations Group at Fort Campbell in 2017. He says at that point -- he was ready to ditch the uniform and start a new season of life. But that didn't mean turning over a totally new leaf. "I didn’t want my service to end there -- so if I can help veterans, that’s what we do," said Maxfield.
So he started a non-profit called The Sheepdog Initiative. "We’re simply trying to take care of God’s flock," he said.
The name may have its foundations in faith, but the group's mission is to meet people where they are. "We’re a community needs organization. We find a need and we fill a need,' said Maxfield.
It didn't take Dustin and his family long to figure out just how many needs that would be. Out of the back of their so-called Love Truck, The Sheepdog Initiative delivers food and supplies to those in Clarksville experiencing homelessness. "Right now, we’re just rotating our stock from summer to winter and getting ready to keep our friends warm and dry," he said.
They also provide resources and service animal training for veterans grappling with PTSD, in a program called "The Quick Encounter."
Another service -- "No Vet Left Behind" that donates care packages to veterans' homes -- packed with comfort items but delivered with companionship. "Let people get stuff off their chest, listening to them. You’d be surprised how often we are actually on the receiving end of the preaching," he said.
For an organization with this kind of reach, you might expect a big footprint. "We actually run our organization out of three households and the trailer really helps us take care of a lot of space issues that we have," said Maxfield.
What they lack in square footage, they make up for in work ethic. His group has come a long way in just three years. "We started out of the back of a minivan, just handing out hygiene stuff and snack items. We were fortunate enough to save up and get our mobile pantry here,' he said.
Only proving -- you can take the soldier out of his uniform, but his sense of service lasts all seasons. "My whole family is behind me, my friends are behind me and the community is really," said Maxfield.
In recognition of Dustin's work, NewsChannel 5 and Bart Durham Injury Law presented him with a $500 check to help Maxfield grow the operation even more.