Working Dogs Before, During, and After Service

Join us in person and the Museum or from the comfort of your own home to learn about working dogs and the support they can offer our military and our Veterans at this panel discussion.

In this session you will learn about the different types of working dogs from Veterans like Chris Willingham, who spent the majority of his career in the Marines Corps working for the Military Working Dog Program, and Jessica Harris, who will tell you about her experience founding K9 Salute, a natural dog treat company that also works to help Veteran organizations. Stacy Pearsall, an Air Force Veteran, will share how she works with her service dog, Charlie. Stacy Pearsall is the artist behind our permanent exhibition in the Great Hall of the Museum, Veterans Portrait Project.This breakout session is part of our annual Pets and Vets Week programming. It is free and open to the public, but registration is required. A link to access this program and watch it live will be released soon. Stay up to date with the latest events by signing up for our emails.

Stacy Pearsall and her service dog, Charlie

Stacy L. Pearsall got her start as an Air Force photographer at the age of 17. During her time in service, she traveled to over 41 countries, and attended the Military Photojournalism Program at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. During three combat tours, she earned the Bronze Star Medal and Air Force Commendation with Valor for combat actions in Iraq. Though combat disabled and retired from military service, Pearsall has not let her disabilities hold her back. With her service animal America’s VetDogs Charlie by her side, she continues to work worldwide as an independent photographer and is an author, educator, military consultant, BRAVO748 public speaker and founder of the Veterans Portrait Project

Her work has been exhibited at The Woodruff Arts CenterThe Pentagon, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and the National Veterans Memorial and Museum among numerous other galleries and venues. She is one of only three women to win National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Military Photographer of the Year competition, and the first woman to earn it twice.

Pearsall began the Veterans Portrait Project (VPP) in 2008 while rehabilitated from the combat injuries sustained in Iraq. While spending hours in VA waiting rooms surrounded by veterans from every generation and branch of service, she was compelled to honor and thank them in the only way she knows how, photography. Since 2008, she’s traveled coast to coast with the VPP covering 82 cities in all 50 states and has documented over 8,500 veterans in over 189+ engagements. 

Chris Willingham and Luca

Chris Willingham retired after 20 years of faithful service in the United States Marine Corps. He dedicated the majority of his career to the Military Working Dog (MWD) Program and served in key billets from a K-9 handler to K-9 Program Manager. 

Chris and his MWD, Lucca, were featured in Maria Goodavage’s New York Times bestselling book Top Dog.  On 1 January 2021, Chris assumed the role of President of the United States War Dog Association which supports military working dogs and promotes the long history of their invaluable service.  

Jessica Harris is the founder of K9 Salute, a natural dog treat company that honors and gives back to fallen K9’s. Each bag of treats has a tribute to a fallen K9, and 10% of sales are donated to designated K9 and Veteran organizations. She was named an American Small Business Champion by SCORE and Sam’s Club, and is a winner of the Bob Evans Farms Heroes to CEO’s contest, which supports Veteran owned businesses. 

Jessica is a retired Veteran of the Washington Army National Guard, where she served from 1995 to 2015 as a medic. She served as a traditional Guardsman for the first half of her career, and then in an active duty status for the last half of her career. She deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a senior medic for 1/303rd Cavalry Troop.  

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Date

October 19, 2022

Time

1:00 pm

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WEDS-SUN 10 A.M. - 5 P.M.
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