Sgt. 1st Class Luciano Yulfo spent 36 years proudly serving his country in the U.S. Army. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom that served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
In July 2014 he was injured while on duty in Afghanistan and was then stationed at Walter Reed National Military Center for two years. He now walks with the aid of a cane.
Despite the sacrifices he made, this noble veteran was forced to wait over 18 months to receive a service dog to help him accomplish daily tasks and cope with PTSD.
In a Hoops for Troops celebration, presented by Budweiser they recognized the veteran, who was accompanied by his daughter Sonya. Yulfo was the first 2016-17 recipient of the Hoops for Troops Award.
Watch this heartwarming moment for yourself below.
When the New York Knicks, Paws of War and Cow Harbor Warriors heard his story, they couldn’t allow themselves to sit idly by as a veteran received unfair treatment. They invited Yulfo to attend a game against the Brooklyn Nets. During an intermission, they presented Yulfo with a brand-new personalized Knicks Jersey with his name and the number 36. He was elated to receive the jersey presented by Knicks Legend Larry Johnson.
But then, at center court, it was announced that there was more. In the midst of explaining what that “more” was, he was nudged by his daughter to take a peek. It was a long-overdue and well-deserved service dog, named Murphy.
As you can tell by his reaction Yulfo was elated to be presented with the beautiful golden colored dog. It looks like Murphy was pretty happy too as he began licking the veteran’s face. Seems to be a perfect match up. You can tell this pair will have countless hours of fun together down the road.
Yulfo manages to take a knee to get down and meet his new companion, choking back the tears, but it then helped back up by Larry Johnson.
Yulfo has received numerous awards and medals throughout his military career including an Army Commendation Medal, an Army Achievement Medal, and a National Defense Service Medal, according to the team’s website.
He officially retired in April 2016 and now resides in New York City.
Paws of War is a foundation that has “trained and placed shelter dogs to U.S. military veterans that suffer from the emotional effects of war. Since 2014, they have supported over 100 Veterans with service dogs rescued from kill shelters,” according to their website.
Cow Harbor Warriors was established in 2012. They are a “non-profit organization made up of a team that focuses on “honoring and enabling” individuals in the Northport tri-state area that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom,” their website stated.