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Carlos Vera & Ruthie – Stories About Veterans & Service Dogs

by | Jan 10, 2023

At age 18, veteran Carlos Vera enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served for six years. In 1992, he deployed to Somalia, Operation Restore Hope, and was among the first troops to arrive to that conflict. Poorly equipped and on call 24/7, the war left its mark. After leaving the military in 1997, all of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress were present, but it was years before he was diagnosed. Treatments he was offered failed. His last stop, at Operation Freedom Paws, was a truly life-saving experience–he was partnered with his service dog Ruthie.


The Heal series of videos were done as a multi-media project by artist Vicki Topaz in partnership with Operation Freedom Paws. That chronicles the healing journeys of veterans living with post-traumatic stress and other disabilities who are seeking to cope day-to-day with the help of their highly trained service dogs. HEAL! Illustrates how service dogs empower veterans by helping them find a “new normal” as they adjust to life after service.

22 U.S. veterans commit suicide every day. This statistic does not include servicewomen that have taken their lives.

The Mission:

• Shed light on the invisible wounds of PTS
• Help other Vets learn about service dogs
• Create awareness in our communities
• Build engagement with Vets and non-Vets