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Battle Buddies Walk the Tulsa Veteran's Day Parade

Posted at 9:29 PM, Nov 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 14:06:49-05

TULSA, Okla. — Hundreds of people took to the streets of Downtown Tulsa Thursday to honor the men and women who served our country.

Among them— two best friends with a special bond that helped heal invisible wounds.

“This is Benson Eugene,” Chris LaRuffa said referring to his dog companion.

LaRuffa and Benson became best friends last August. They met through Anthem Service Dogs, a non-profit that trains dogs for anyone who needs one.

“You know, when you always have somebody there that always gets up with you, that always gives you the smiles and licks on the face…you know, it’s just a wonderful thing having him,” LaRuffa said.

Their bond goes beyond the smiles and licks on the face. They are battle buddies. Benson helps LaRuffa cope with battles you can't see.

LaRuffa is an army veteran. While deployed in Iraq, his convoy was hit by an IED leaving him with a temporary brain injury, physical injuries, and PTSD. He credits Benson with helping him heal both his physical and invisible wounds.

“Definitely when you’re a veteran there’s a lot of things that you go through when you come back to normal life and having your friends and people to count on is a big thing about that so having today and seeing y'all's support is really good for us,” he said.

LaRuffa said Benson came into his life when he needed him most.

“The transition period was really hard for me,” La Ruffa said.“For me, the VA wanted to put me on antidepressants or what not and then I came out and my friend told me about getting a dog, a service dog and so I went that avenue and so I went that avenue and it’s been the best thing ever and it’s completely changed my healing process.”

Together, they're now urging other veterans to seek help.

“I would encourage veterans to definitely reach out there are definitely people out there definitely willing to help and it’s going to be hard at first and start searching for what will help you, you’re going to make it out okay,” LaRuffa said.

Thursday, they joyfully walked the Veteran's Day Parade together, spreading smiles and receiving gratitude for their service.

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