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Local Army veteran receives service dog at Chamber of Commerce golf tourney

Oct 05, 2017 11:24AM ● Published by Brian Shaw

Christine McKoon poses with Tink, her new service dog. (Photo/The Malinois Foundation)

At the annual South Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce golf tournament on Fri. Sept. 15, scores gathered to play golf and socialize on a rainy weekday morning. 

On this particular day, however, a proverbial ray of sunshine appeared over the horizon at Golf the Round when the chamber—along with several dignitaries and officials—presented Army veteran Christine McKoon with a service dog at the luncheon immediately following the tournament. 

The service dog better known as Tink will assist McKoon, a 52-year-old Army vet who flew Chinook helicopters during both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. 

According to Kelley Rosequist of The Malinois Foundation, the organization responsible in part for providing Tink, McKoon suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, related to her service. 

On hand to honor McKoon and present her with the service dog were more than 100 people at Golf the Round, including but not limited to 60 golfers who attended the tournament earlier that morning and contributed all of their entry fees to the worthy cause. 

“The reception [from the community] has been incredible as we knew it would be,” said Gary Birdsall, SSL Chamber president. 

He added that the amount of money the tournament received from area residents and businesses probably numbers close to $20,000—but that the final amount wouldn’t be known for weeks. 

Along with the South Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, the city and the many individuals, businesses and private entities that donated their time and money, Mark Miller Subaru as well as Veterans First Mortgage sponsored this program known as Service Paws and Patriots. 

The aim of the three-year project, according to the Service Paws and Patriots website (www.servicepawsandpatriots.us), is to “place service animals in the hands, hearts, and homes of the brave men and women who have served our country, many of whom who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a direct result of their service.”

Birdsall said the event went so well that he intends to give another service dog to a vet in need around the same time next year at the fifth annual chamber golf tournament. 

“We had so much fun doing this,” added Birdsall, “we plan to do it again in 2018!”

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