(L to R): General Manager Lorna Kenna, honoree Amy Unsworth, Manager Lorna Hall, and Director Gary Casteel.
Amy Unsworth, the TOSC Integrated Processing Solutions (TIPS) Maximo Functional Lead supporting the Test and Operations Support Contract (TOSC) at Kennedy Space Center, received the 2022 TOSC Volunteer Award in a ceremony held in July 2023.
For many years, Amy has volunteered nearly every Saturday to work with the Valor Medical Service Dogs and Valor K9 Training organizations as a dog handler/trainer. This service provides Medical Service Dogs for ex-military personnel who are in need. These Service Dogs are invaluable to a veteran who suffers from traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and amputations.
“It is such an honor to support a 100% non-profit organization that helps our veterans and disabled children,” said Amy. “All proceeds from Valor K9 Training go toward Valor Medical Service Dogs to supply and train veterans and disabled children for free.
“It’s a magical moment when handler and dog connect and work as a team.”
Founded by a wounded Iraq veteran in 2016, Valor Medical Service Dogs (VMSD) is a non-profit located in Chuluota, FL that supports wounded warriors.
Founder of Valor Medical Service Dogs
After being severely wounded in Iraq, Ernie spent nearly a year hospitalized recovering from wounds. After his recovery, he lost more of his fellow war veterans to suicide than his multiple combat tours.
Ernie waited more than three years to get paired with a service dog and spent seven more months helping to finish training his service dog. His service dog saved his life and gave him a new sense of purpose — Ernie then spent more than two years attending training courses and learning the proper way to train medical service dogs.
He has devoted the last six years training and pairing more than 250 highly trained medical service dogs to veterans, disabled children, and Kids with Autism. VMSD provides service dogs free of charge and, unlike most organizations, VMSD does not pay any administrators or officers. Medical Service Dogs are an excellent way to assist veterans and family members.
Ernie and wife, Shirley, have also paired up with Wins For Warriors and their Adopt Rescue Heal program.
It is also a passion for COMET’s Amy Unsworth, who has volunteered for years as a dog handler and trainer. Not only was Amy recently honored with a 2022 Volunteer Award for her contributions, she has been invited to join the VMSD Board of Directors, where she will support promotions and fundraising for the organization founded by Ernie Rivera Sr. (SFC Ret. Army).
“If you know a veteran or disabled child in need, Valor can be found on Facebook and VMSD.org,” said Amy.
Amy with Training Team