BOONE COUNTY, Ind. – The wife of Boone County Deputy Jacob Pickett is urging Hoosiers to ‘Respond like Jake’. Jen Pickett remembers her husband, Jacob, as the kind of person who would stop what he was doing to help anyone.
“One of my favorite stories is how he was late to his interview for the Boone County Sheriff’s Office because he stopped to pick up a dog on the way,” Jen laughed, “That’s just something we did as a family.”
Jen holds those memories close. It’s been more than three years since Deputy Jacob Pickett was shot in the line of the duty while pursuing a suspect with his K9, Brik. After several days on life support, he passed away.
“It was tragic to lose Jake,” Jen shared with us.
Jen will never forget the days, following the tragedy and the support she felt.
“From meal trains to the memorial fund and just letters and cards and the signs up around town. It’s just, I knew Jake was special but then seeing how the community responded,” said Jen Pickett.
It was then, that Jen realized how many lives Jake had touched and wanted to honor his legacy by continuing that. She created the Jacob Pickett Response Organization and a remembrance day event. It’s the third year for the Deputy Jacob Pickett Remembrance Day, an event for the entire family.
Normally, it would be held in March but due to the pandemic it was pushed back until June. With Deputy Pickett’s badge number 6-26, and with that being a Saturday this year, Jen thought that would be the perfect way to honor her husband.
“We’ll have our kids zone with bounce houses and we’re going to have touch-a-truck here,” she explained.
Most importantly the event raises money to assist law enforcement families, like Teddy Gauthier.
“He’s in need of this PTSD service dog,” said Pickett, “And a lot of people don’t know how much a service dog can cost.”
The Jacob Pickett Response Organization is teaming up with Hero Family Outreach, Paws 4 PTSD program, another local nonprofit to make this happen. Their goal is to raise $25,000 to purchase a highly trained service dog.
Here’s Teddy’s story:
“My name is Teddy Gauthier. I grew up in Florida and served in Intelligence for 7 years in the Army. I deployed to Iraq and didn’t realize what that did to me, but others noticed. I was Honorably Discharged October 2009 and started 3 weeks later with Carmel PD. No down time.
You don’t talk about PTSD when you are on the job. You just get the job done. You see things you cannot unsee and just like a junk drawer, when you don’t talk about those things and keep shoving it in the drawer, eventually it bursts open. That junk comes out in the form of anxiety attacks, blackouts, depression, anger, pushing people away, and lack of sleep to name just a few. I helped others with their mental health but didn’t get help for myself. With all of these symptoms and more affecting myself, my family, and my job, I agreed to get help and medically retired from the PD and in the process had to relinquish my K9 partner.
I still have nightmares and triggers but with help from my counselor, I can recognize them more often and occasionally just have to walk away or hide for a bit until I can regain control. I believe a PTSD Service Dog would benefit me and help keep me on the right track of managing my life and enjoying time with my wife and 4 boys.
I am thankful to Hero Family Outreach (HFO) and Jacob Pickett Response Organization (JPRO) for partnering together to raise funds to provide me with a PTSD Service Dog through HFO’s Paws 4PTSD program. I can’t wait to meet my new 4-legged partner when training is complete.”
Jen knows with the communities help they can reach their goal, while spreading awareness about PTSD.
“It’s okay to have PTSD,” she said, “Losing Jake was a trauma for me, and I know how that affected me, being able to be open about that and to work through that.”
As for Jen, while there are tough days, she and her children are inspired by Jake and his life to keep moving forward.
“I feel like this is a way to give them that piece of – this is who your father was, and this is how he lived his life. They can’t see him living that life, but they know the purpose of our organization,” said Pickett.
The third annual Deputy Pickett Remembrance Day is June 26. It’ll be from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the Boone County Fairgrounds.
If you’d like to visit the organizations website to learn more about the event, click here.
You can also check the event out on Facebook by visiting Jacob Pickett Response Organization.
Jen Pickett has also started a blog called “Tears of the Phoenix,” that details her experience with losing her husband and what she’s gone through. She talks about the tragedy, her mental health, and her path forward. She encourages people to follow along with her journey.