Boy, was retired army veteran, Sergeant First Class, Luciano Yulfo, surprised when he was called onto the court during time out of a New York Knicks basketball game! He thought he was there to receive a free jersey, and instead, got the surprise of his life. In honor of Veterans' Day, the NBA and The New York Knicks honored him with a special gift of appreciation for his 36 years of faithful military service. They gave him his new best friend; Murphy the trained Golden Retriever service dog. (See my article on Lucca.)
A just reward for a loyal and dedicated soldier
Sergeant Yulfo spent more than three decades in the military, serving in both operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He was injured in July of 2014 after which he retired from active duty. For two years he was stationed at Walter Reed Military Center. He retired in April of 2016 and applied for a service dog to help him live with his injuries. His wish came true on November 9th when the Knicks playing against the Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden brought him to center court and surprised hm with Murphy, his new service dog. (See my article: Local Hero Awarded Service Dog.)
The Paws of War Foundation
Paws of War, an organization dedicated to training and placing rescue dogs,donated Murphy to Sergeant Yulfo. They are dedicated to serving and providing independence to military veterans suffering from the emotional ramifications of combat. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, 750,000 veterans served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and approximately 100,000 of them received mental health care.. About half of those were diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Service and comfort dogs have been proven to be 84.1% effective at helping veterans cope with this debilitating disability. ( See my article on Two Purple Hearts.)
Paws of War and Hoops For Troops
Paws of War train the dogs and offer them to deserving veterans free of charge. Even transportation and delivery of the dog is provided by this wonderful organization that relies on volunteers and donations for its survival. Hoops For Troops, the NBA-sponsored, year-round initiative, honors both active and retired service men and women and their families. They work in conjunction with the Department of Defense, USO and other related organizations.
Kudos to both organizations and congratulations to retired Sergeant First Class, Luciano Yulfo and his new loyal and loving companion, Murphy!
See also Bretagne