Service Dog Helps Veteran Heal Invisible Wounds

A service dog helps a Vietnam veteran heal after war.

By Cari Jorgensen | Posted: November 6, 2014, 2 p.m. PST

After serving his country in the Vietnam War, former U.S. Marine Matt Raible came home physically disabled and emotionally scarred. Not only could he no longer walk due to a severed spinal cord from a mortar attack, but he was also no longer able to cry. In fact, he hadn’t cried since leaving Vietnam in 1968. Tears would not even come when his parents passed away.

Service Dog
Veteran Raible and Jason, his service dog. Canine Companions for Independence

Crying is such a powerful release during emotional times that not being able to must be just as frustrating as not being able to walk.

In 1992, Agatha entered Raible’s life. She was a service dog paired with him to day-to-day tasks that proved difficult for the veteran. She helped pick things up when he dropped them, she got his keys and she even got the phone for him when it rang.

But Agatha did so much more for Raible, who, after more than 20 years of not being able to cry, was finally able to do so. "I cried when that dog died. She helped me get in touch with my humanity again,” Raible said, according to the New York Daily News.

Agatha clearly helped a veteran with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) cope.

The Veterans Administration and Canine Companions for Independence have seen the effects dogs have on those suffering from PTSD, noting that the dogs they’ve placed with veterans provide stress relief and a great deal of help.

So should dogs be trained specifically to help PTSD sufferers? The organizations are currently developing a federally-mandated study to find out. Training dogs to work with veterans with PTSD involves learning to ease fears, turning on lights, "sweeping” a room and guarding their human companion when he or she feels uncomfortable.

Raible is currently in training with his third service dog, Jason. He hopes that others see how beneficial service dogs are and told the NY Daily News, "When I came home from Vietnam, I was classified as a baby killer and a psycho. The animals never judged me. They have a phenomenal ability to heal.”

They do indeed.

Has a dog helped you or someone you know in a time of need? Share your story with us on Facebook, using the hashtag #HowDogsHelp.

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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

11/10/2014 4:07:09 AM

This is a wonderful story about the many things dogs can do the help humans. My dog is a therapy dogs and she was able to help a selective mute talk again.

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