Claiborne County Marine gets new service dog

Claiborne County Marine gets new service dog

Posted:
Evans will be taking Willie home for good this weekend, and says his skills will make life much easier back home in Speedwell. Evans will be taking Willie home for good this weekend, and says his skills will make life much easier back home in Speedwell.
"I guess the best way I can describe it I get a paycheck in the heart," said Smoky Mountain Service Dogs volunteer chairman Mike Kitchens. "I guess the best way I can describe it I get a paycheck in the heart," said Smoky Mountain Service Dogs volunteer chairman Mike Kitchens.
"When I get to see this bond, this chemistry, that happens at these training camps. I go home every night and I feel like I'm making a difference in the world," said head trainer Derek Blair. "When I get to see this bond, this chemistry, that happens at these training camps. I go home every night and I feel like I'm making a difference in the world," said head trainer Derek Blair.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

TELLICO VILLAGE (WATE) - A Claiborne County Marine who was severely injured in Afghanistan has now made the transition back to living in East Tennessee.

Marine Lance Cpl. Cody Evans, of Speedwell, was injured after he stepped on an IED in 2011.

The explosion resulted in the amputation of both of his legs.

After spending 11 months at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Evans returned home in 2012.

Since returning home, Evans has continued to adapt and recently got paired up with a special companion to make his life much easier.

This new companion is a lab named Willie.  
 
Soon after Evans was hurt the volunteers with Smoky Mountain Service Dogs knew they wanted to help.

"I guess the best way I can describe it I get a paycheck in the heart," said Smoky Mountain Service Dogs volunteer chairman Mike Kitchens.

Kitchens says Evans is the fourth veteran in Tennessee they have given a service dog to.

Their organization has only been around for three years, but they saw a need and knew they could help.

"We just see something happen that's just as beautiful as what's happened with Cody and Willie," said Kitchens. "You just feel you been a part of something very, very special."

Evans is in the middle of a two week training period with Willie.

On Wednesday, they were at Tellico Village Community Church working on basic commands.

Willie is trained to make Evans' life as easy as possible.

"It's special retrieval, keys, hats, my cane," explained Evans. "He loves turning light switches on and off."

Willie can even help balance Evans, so he does not have to use one of his canes.

"I have a tremendous respect for all of our veterans," said head trainer Derek Blair. "When I get to see this bond, this chemistry, that happens at these training camps. I go home every night and I feel like I'm making a difference in the world."

Evans will be taking Willie home for good this weekend, and says his skills will make life much easier back home in Speedwell.

"Yes, just mentally, physically, everything," said Evans. "Yes, (He) definitely will be a major help."

Smoky Mountain Service Dogs plans to give one or two more dogs this year.

Currently, they have nine dogs that they are training for other veterans.

The organization is always looking for more volunteers to help, and monetary donations are welcomed.

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