Service dogs awarded to vets
Veteran Mike Sheesley Jr. (left) with his new service dog Tron II and veteran Ken Hernandez (right) with his new companion Miller IV. Both are Air Force Veterans receiving their first service dog.

Courtesy Photos

Service dogs awarded to vets

Story By: NICOLE FUENTES
11/8/2018


 

Canine Companions for Independence will be graduating approximately 13 people with service dogs this Friday, Nov. 9. Among those graduates are two veterans who took the time to speak with the Long Island Advance earlier this week. Both are Air Force Veterans who received their first service dog. Below are their stories: 

Ken Hernandez 

Hernandez, 39, of Westbury was in the US Air Force from 2003 to 2008. He enlisted at the age of 23 and afterward became a Port Authority officer until 2014 when he was involved in a major motor vehicle accident resulting in spinal cord injuries. He now lives paralyzed from the waist down bound to a wheelchair. He has a wife and two children and enjoys spending time doing adaptive sports competitions with wounded warriors. He received his dog earlier this week.

“I am in just awe of what they are capable of,” he said of his new service dog Miller. “I need help when I am home alone; just getting around is difficult.”

Hernandez said he looks forward to getting out more, taking Miller for walks and seeing an improvement in his mood. Since receiving the dog, he said, he has already helped him pick things up and is now teaching him to help him get dressed.

“This isn’t just for me, it’s for my family,” he added.

Mike Sheesley Jr.

Sheesley Jr., 41, of Potts Grove, PA was also a United States Air Force veteran who served from 1998 to 2007 after enlisting at the age of 21. He currently works at a computer recruiting company, lives with his girlfriend and three children and is ambulatory but has lost feeling in his one hand and side of his body due to injuries while serving overseas.

“Before Tron, I mostly lived a life of seclusion. I don’t like going out much and I lost a lot of feeling in my left hand,” he said of his injuries.

He hopes and has already seen his new service dog help him with his PTSD by getting out more in public and regaining some feeling in his hand by providing warmth to the otherwise cold area.

“Tron has been awesome. He is a very proud dog and he’s already doing what is expected of him,” he said.  “Not only does he help me pick things up but at the grocery store he helps by standing behind me and preventing people from crowding me.”

Sheesley said he can’t wait to return home with Tron and his children are excited.

The celebration of CCI Medford’s 10th anniversary will begin on Thursday evening, Nov. 8, with the annual Veterans Day event at the Woodbury Country Club from 6 to 8 p.m., honoring the military service of Michael Caputo of Darby Dental, among other veterans; followed by National Graduation Day on Friday, Nov. 9 and the main event on Saturday, Nov. 10. Tickets are on sale now. Visit http://cci.org/Miller10Year for more information or to purchase tickets.