Marine Won't Let Injury Stop His Dream
by Adam Ghassemi
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Eighty men and women from across the Volunteer State are now officially police officers, but Friday's ceremony was even more special than usual.
Jeremy Vanhoose can finally say the training academy is behind him, but the biggest lesson he learned during his 10 week course only reaffirmed something he already knew.
"As long as you've got a good support system you can do anything," he said.
Vanhoose became a Marine after high school. As a K9 handler serving in Afghanistan, he and dog Imi had the job of sniffing out improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.
Together they unearthed 16 until the last one changed everything.
"She had just found one close to a canal and as I was pulling her back I stepped on a secondary," he said.
Vanhoose's left leg was gone below knee, but after extensive physical therapy he learned to walk with a prosthetic.
Friday he took the same steps as 80 others to complete his post-military dream of becoming a police officer when the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy graduated class 1710.
Vanhoose's wife, Kacy, said thanks to his attitude.
"Some people can look at it as a bad experience in life and others can take it and follow it as 'how can I be better, how can I improve, how can I prove to people that this is not, this isn't the end of my life,'" she said.
Despite the setback becoming a K9 officer is Vanhoose's new dream. That's something his new boss said will become reality one day.
"He never brought it up. He never during the interviews I had with him at any time brought up his leg issue. That's character right there," said Portland Police Chief Richard Smith who hired Vanhoose last August.
Vanhoose graduated as the academy class president and also took home a distinguished leadership award. Those honors are in addition the Purple Heart he earned for serving in Afghanistan.
Imi retired after the explosion, and now is a Vanhoose family pet.