HOUSTON (FOX 26) - After serving our country for more than 20 years, two veterans are on a mission to continue serving their local community in Houston. The two banded together last summer to start the junk removal franchise "JDog Junk Removal Houston"-- an American-owned, veteran-operated business that services the greater Houston area.
JDog will pick up anything from torn up furniture to old appliances and dishes, and transport that junk back to their warehouse in north Houston. The items are then stored there, refurbished, and donated to other veteran charities and organizations like Goodwill, Project C.U.R.E and Camp Hope. They've also donated old furniture pieces to the Atascoita Fire Department to help firefighters train.
David Gravley is the VP of Operations at JDog and the first employee hired on board when the local franchise kicked off last June.
"Roughly 90 percent of items we take in are recycled, repurposed or donated," Gravley said.
The 22-year Marine veteran, who's been deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan, says for many veterans, finding a job after retiring from the armed services can be a difficult transition.
Army veteran Adam Sturdivant, one of 11 veterans currently employed at JDog, said anything can trigger painful memories he doesn't want to relive. Sturdivant says being surrounded by other veterans at work becomes almost therapeutic.
"A noise catching you off guard, or a really loud bang can catch you off guard and then, they can make you relive past events. Here, you have more people that understand what you've seen, what you've done," Sturdivant said.
Employees are paid competitive salaries and also receive healthcare benefits from the VA. But most importantly, it's a second chance at life with their families at home.
"The mission always came first and your family came second at the Marine Corps. And that's the same with most services. When lives are on the line, you gotta take care of that immediate problem and threat first," Gravley said.
That selfless mentality, derived from years of serving their country, echoes through the entire company -- empowering fellow veterans by giving them work that leaves them feeling rewarded and appreciated.
"I think about my employees like I used to think about my Marines. I try to take care of their welfare," Gravley said.
JDog will host its official grand opening and fundraiser next Thursday, June 14, at the Kingwood Country Club from 6-8 p.m. Proceeds will benefit Camp Hope, an organization that helps veterans combat PTSD.