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Service dog gives Allstater a voice

Allstate recognizes the transition from military to civilian life is not always easy. Understanding and responding to the needs of military and veteran families and offering real protection is a company commitment.

Brandon Lewis enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2004. By the time he retired in 2015, he’d been deployed twice, seen combat and watched fellow servicemembers die. Living with the effects of a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, Brandon prepared to transition to civilian life. He realized the stresses of war would follow him home. He wasn’t alone. Brandon saw physicians weekly and took new medications that were supposed to help with his mental and physical challenges. But, after months, he felt no change.

“[With the medication], my family used to think of me as a person with no emotions,” Brandon said. “But the truth is, having no emotions isn’t fun. It’s not easy to have a conversation with people. You learn how to make everything numb. I knew I needed to get better.”

In 2017, he met his saving grace: Boothe, a 2-year-old black lab service dog. Boothe changed things for him. He experiences dizziness frequently as a result of his injuries, and Boothe stays with him at all times to keep him stable. Boothe also helps calm his anxiety and migraines, both symptoms of TBI and PTSD. Beyond that, Boothe is there to listen.

“A lot of vets are like me: They don’t want to talk,” Brandon said. “The dogs are there to help you open up. I can tell Boothe everything, and he won’t go and talk to anybody else.”

And in February 2018, Boothe became the first service dog to join the Lubbock Market Claim Office (MCO). “My sister told me that Allstate was hiring, so I decided to apply,” Brandon said. After accepting the job at Allstate, Brandon decided to come to the office prior to his first day to meet his team – and introduce Boothe to his new surroundings. “It was important to me to let everyone know about Boothe,” Brandon said. Today, Boothe is part of the team.

“I want people at Allstate – and any company – to know that if you are a vet with PTSD, you are not alone,” Brandon said. “Veterans are not ticking time bombs; they can truly help this business. I want to let veterans know if you speak up, you will be OK.”

The Allstate Veterans Engagement Team and Supporters (AVETS) employee resource group offers a network of resources, shares Joe Pennington, director of Allstate’s military program. From there, AVETS and Allstate will connect a veteran with local resources they need.

“When we have employees come to Allstate dealing with PTSD, we don’t zero in on that,” Joe said. “What’s important to Allstate is his or her talent, and to have that employee as part of the Allstate team.”

Brandon will soon be joining Joe’s team on a talent share to help support Allstate’s military program. He will also be featured along with Boothe in a new documentary, “To Be of Service”. Check out a clip here. Stream the full film on Netflix.