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FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, PA.- A Gold Star mother, friends, elected officials and supporters gathered to recognize a Susquehanna Service Dog in-training, Major Wes with an ID tag presentation and reception on July 20.
Major Wes was named and sponsored by Gold Star mother, Karen Mojecki, in honor of her son Carlisle, PA native Maj. Wesley James Hinkley.
Mojecki chose to sponsor a service dog in memory of her son for several reasons. “My son was a devoted friend, he was quiet and would stick by your side and once he was your friend he was your friend for life,” she said. “Honoring his memory this way seemed fitting.”
Kismet seemed to select Major Wes for this mission. Mojecki received notification Major Wes was selected on Memorial Day weekend which “is a difficult weekend for Gold Star families,” said Mojecki. Also, Mojecki and her sons had a black lab when Hinkley and his brother were teens-Major Wes is a black lab. Finally, “Major Wes is leggy and tall just like her son was,” said Mojecki.
Major Wes is in his first phase of training with Susquehanna Service Dogs, and will continue his training over the next several months. Susquehanna Service Dogs, a program of Keystone Human Services, trains and provides service dogs and hearing dogs to assist children and adults to become more independent.
Kerry Wevodau, Susquehanna Service Dog’s Development Director said, “Working with Karen to help her raise money to name a service dog was such a rewarding experience. Here was a woman who had suffered the worst imaginable loss, the loss of a child, but she wanted to turn it into a positive and give him an enduring legacy that would help someone else. She had every right to be angry at the world, but she wasn’t; she wanted to make a difference and honor her son.”
Service dogs can assist individuals with spinal cord injuries, polio, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, stroke and similar disabilities. Some dogs can be trained to support individuals with psychiatric disorders and children and adults with autism, as well as PTSD. Each dog is specially trained depending on the needs of the person receiving the dog.
Mojecki has obtained her B.S. degree in psychology and hopes to assist veterans after becoming a counselor. She hopes that Major Wes might be placed with a veteran as well, carrying on in some way service to others as her son did.
The event was made possible with the support of the Pennsylvania National Guard Survivor Outreach Services office. The office and its services are available to all family members, regardless of component or branch of service, whose service member died while serving in the military and provides long-term support to survivors.
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