A Photographic Series about Coming Home, PTSD, and Canine Companions      

 

 

HEAL! is dedicated to the men
and women who have served
our country during military
conflicts, have given selflessly,
and have struggled in their
return to civilian life.

In remembrance, I pay tribute
to Albert Francis Topaz, my
father, who served as a tail
gunner during World War II.

 

 

 

 

"'The Department of Veterans Affairs has formally diagnosed more than 207,171 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."

David Wood, Huff Post World, 7/4/12

 

HEAL! is now well underway with more than fifteen portraits and stories, and the first video in a series is now available.

Prior to commencing this work in September 2012, I had been closely following media coverage about veterans suffering from invisible wounds such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other disabilities, as well as how service dogs can assist in their recovery and help get them back out into their communities.

The stories about our wounded warriors have triggered memories of my own father's struggle to recover from his WWII experiences as a tail gunner. In the late 1960's and 1970's I also witnessed my peers returning from Vietnam - wounded, often misunderstood, and many left on their own with little help. These unfolding events and past memories have ignited my passion to put a human face to statistics and news reports about the men and women who have served our country.

There are many homecoming stories.  I am particularly drawn to those of veterans struggling with PTSD and TBI who are aided by service dogs.  The strength of the human-canine bond reinforces my long-held belief in the reciprocal healing power between the animal kingdom and humankind.

Employing photography, video, and other media HEAL! features portraits and stories of veterans partnered with service dogs.  To reach the widest possible audience, images from this series will be exhibited in community venues, featured on this dedicated website, and posted on social media. This project will also spotlight organizations that are at the forefront of this relatively new therapeutic method and help encourage its acceptance.

The website will be updated often with more portraits, stories, and news.

Thank you for your interest and support!

 

Vicki Topaz

To find out more about Vicki's photographic work and her background please read her bio.