Veterans carry a special place in our hearts!

Battle Buddies was started in 2012 by John and Jo Anne Creed. John, a Marine Veteran who is disabled and Jo Anne originally started by volunteering as puppy raisers for other organizations for mobility disabilities. After meeting several veterans with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries in their state of South Carolina, they saw a need for service dogs and Battle Buddies was born.

It all started with one puppy named Camouflage and has grown ever since. Through the generosity of breeders, Battle Buddies starts training puppies at 8 weeks old until they are placed around 18 months. They also rely on puppy raiser families to socialize puppies during that time and take them to obedience training and all their medical visits. Veterans are matched with their battle buddy half way through the puppies training to start the bond.

Through fundraising and donations, Battle Buddies has continued to grow to place more service dogs with needy veterans each year. The goal of Battle Buddies is to return the veteran to civilian life with independence.




Mickey has helped my anxiety tremendously. He has helped me more than any medication that I have tried. He is a loyal and trusted friend

Roger Carpenter

I have witnessed life saving changes accomplished in veterans through Battle Buddies’ mission; it’s moving and inspiring. John and Jo Anne develop long-lasting personal relationships with the veterans they help transition back to civilian life. It’s a blessing to work alongside them.

Erica Woods

Adams… A friend, companion, loving, funny and a Best friend. He saved me from awful thoughts of my PTSD. I can describe him in one word… Faithful

Edward Palmer

Meet our Team

Passionate about our Battle Buddies

Jo Anne Creed


Jo Anne Creed is the Director and Founder of Battle Buddies along with her husband John Creed. Jo Anne is the proud mom of four children and one grandson. She received her Bachelor of Science from Georgian Court University. After working for several service dog organizations Jo Anne and her husband felt led to start Battle Buddies to focus on veterans suffering with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.

John Creed


John Creed founded Battle Buddies with his wife Jo Anne Creed in 2012. John is a Marine Corp Veteran serving in the Air Wing. His passion for Veterans and love of dogs led to the creation of Battle Buddies.

He is proud dad of four children and one grandson.

Michael Huppmann

Board Chairman

Mike, raised in Syracuse, NY, has dedicated his life to fire and emergency management. In 2018, Mike and his wife, Susan, relocated to South Carolina where they reside today. He is a proud father of three children and 2 granddaughters. Mike’s family has a strong military history, with his father and uncles being veterans themselves. His youngest son, Justin, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps., even has his own Battle Buddies service dog named “Chai”. Inspired by his family’s military background, Mike is committed to supporting those who have served and sacrificed so much for our country through the Battle Buddies organization.

John Adams

Board Member

In the year 2004, John created Hawthorne Holding group (HHG). HHG operates eight full-service restaurants, and develops and manages a number of real estate within the Charlotte, NC region. Prior to HHG, he was a trained mental health counselor for the State of North Carolina. During his tenure as a counselor, he had the privilege of working with a number of patients on the mental health spectrum. John is a graduate of the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he majored in psychology. He currently lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Jaimee and their son, Finn Patrick.

Denise Smith

Board Member

Denise is the owner of Mission Accomplished Consulting, LLC, a human resources and risk management consulting company serving clients in a wide range of industries and compliance standards, including commercial, public-sector, and nonprofits. Denise has extensive experience working with many human service organizations, including those that provide assistance to homeless families, people with addictions, and people who have mental illnesses and developmental disabilities.

Candice Matelski-Brady

Board Member

Candice Matelski-Brady is a retired Air Force Veteran, living in Asheville with her husband and their four sons. She has been partnered with her Battle Buddies service dog, Justice, for five years. She is an Executive Assistant for the Department of Veteran Affairs. With Justice’s support, Candice can increase her physical mobility and reduce her reliance on prosthetic devices as well as medications. Candice is dedicated to the improvement of the lives of Veterans like herself. As Justice’s handler, she advocates for workplace reasonable accommodations that support the successful employment of veterans with service animals. Candice has a BA in Anthropology from East Carolina University and an MA in Psychology from the University of Arizona Global Campus.