Honoring a Hero: Aaron Neely

May 1, 2019

Aaron Neely served in the Navy as a Chaplain’s assistant from 2002-2008. Between 2003-2005 he served three tours in Iraq with a Marine Corps infantry battalion to include the march to Baghdad and the first push through Fallujah. Aaron started having symptoms of PTSD in 2003 but was not diagnosed until 2006 after a suicide attempt.

The following years would reveal the beginning of a long battle with PTSD and other mental health diagnoses that would result in a medical retirement from the Navy and a daily struggle to stay alive.
Aaron was connected with Shelter to Soldier and a new phase of recovery began. Aaron was paired with service dog “Liberty” and began to experience a new found confidence and an acceleration of healing.  He began leaving the house by himself, driving, taking care of more of his daily needs. He began living life!
“Liberty has been a game changer!  Before her I was barely leaving the house alone and struggling to connect with anybody outside my immediate family.  Since entering the program I have found new confidence and a desire to experience life.  I’m reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.”
– Aaron Neely
Currently Aaron is enjoying life with his service dog and growing closer to his family.  He hopes to use his own experiences to encourage other veterans to seek help.
“Previously, I felt as if I was dying of a mental illness. Now,  I feel like I am really living.”
– Aaron Neely
We are so very proud of Aaron an his journey, and we look forward to honoring this hero next Wednesday, 5/8 at the San Diego Gulls second round playoff game. We hope you’ll join us!

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