By Connor Beach
For the second straight year the Northport Yacht Club was the site of a heart-warming ceremony that united a veteran in need with a service dog.
U.S. Army veteran William Wurm served in the Brigade Special Troops Battalion Third Infantry Division attached to the 203rd 3rd ID during Operation Iraqi Freedom. While in Iraq, Wurm performed critical track vehicle repairs and earned multiple service awards during his time serving in an imminent danger area during his deployment.
The Port Jefferson native has suffered from PTSD and anxiety since his discharge from the Army, and, after seeing the positive impact that service dogs have had on the lives of other veterans, Wurm turned to Nesconset-based Paws of War for help.
Paws of War is a charity that helps match veterans in need with service dogs from area shelters and rescue centers.
“I knew it was the right group for me when I found out I could not only get the Service Dog that I needed but also save a dog from a shelter,” Wurm said.
After receiving Wurm’s request, Paws of War founder Dori Scofield turned to Northport-based Cow Harbor Warriors and the members of the Northport Yacht Club for help.
The organizations raised $5,000 last March to cover the cost of training a service dog for U.S. Army veteran William Beckenhaupt, and this year they were once again up to the challenge.
Northport Yacht Club member Bob Doherty organized a fundraiser at the Army-Navy football game in December that helped the yacht club raise money for this year’s donation.
The yacht club and Cow Harbor Warriors each raised $5,000 this year, and representatives for all three groups gathered in Northport last Thursday to present Wurm with his new dog Shadow.
Shadow, a 6-year-old brindle and white pit mix, was adopted from the Hempstead Animal Shelter after Wurm connected with Shadow on their first visit.
“I have found that having a companion next to me all day helps me in my day to day life in a way that nothing else can,” Wurm said.
The money raised will go towards Shadow’s continued training, and help Paws of War connect more veterans with service dogs.
Wurm said the Northport community’s continued support for the service dog program makes a life changing difference for veterans “who come home not as whole as they left.”