White Bear Lake's JDog Junk Removal & Hauling Brings a Sense of Community to Veterans

In some ways, Josh Helm—a White Bear Lake High School graduate, an Iraq veteran and owner of the White Bear Lake JDog Junk Removal & Hauling franchise—is a matchmaker. JDog is a haulaway service, but there’s a lot more to it.
JDog franchises are completely owned by veterans and their families. Their mission: empowering veterans through employment while serving the community,” JDog takes a customer’s need—removing junk and unwanted items from homes—and provides the solution in the form of a hauling business that provides veterans with not only employment, but a built-in community—a chance to work with other people who know exactly what they’ve experienced and can provide support when needed. Returning veterans often feel unfamiliar with civilian life, and working with other vets can help them adjust, explains Helm.

JDog also helps by finding the right home for the items that they haul. “The difference between us and a lot of other junk hauling businesses is that we hand sort everything. We recycle what can be recycled, and we donate items like furniture that’s in good condition to places that can use them. We donate a lot to shelters and to charities,” he says. Helm emphasizes JDog makes every effort to dispose of the hauls in the way that’s best for the environment.

Some of the most important “matching” JDog does is connecting vets with a way to use the skills that they gained in the military. “JDog’s founder Jerry Flanagan saw that vets were returning home with a lot of skills, but they weren’t able to use them,” says Helm. Vets have skills like leadership and teamwork, Helm explains, but often they go unrecognized by potential employers. By creating JDog, Flanagan found a way for vets to use those skills when they return.

Having a support system for vets is another key aspect of JDog. “There’s a sense of camaraderie and community that vets miss when they get back,” says Helm. By hiring vets, we have a built-in support system. If someone is having a hard time, there are lots of people around them who know just what they’re going through and can listen. That makes a big difference—to be able to talk to someone who’s been where you’ve been. The military has its own language, its own way of doing things and we bring that to JDog. A lot of young guys who are interested in joining the military are attracted to working with us. They like hearing the stories, and they get to learn the military vocabulary that we like to use in our work. Our name is even military—a lot of military units have nicknames like “Bulldogs, the Mad Dogs. Jerry [Flanagan’s] nickname in the service was JDog, so it fits for a business run by vets. We want vets to feel right at home here.”