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November 12th, 2012
09:30 AM ET

CNN Heroes Top 10: Mary Cortani

More than 2 million U.S. troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since October 2001, and it has been estimated that one in five of those veterans are likely to be afflictedby post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression.

Mary Cortani is working to help some of them enjoy life again.

Through her nonprofit, Operation Freedom Paws, Cortani helps veterans train their own service dogs in northern California. She often helps match veterans with dogs from shelters or rescue groups.

CNN asked Cortani for her thoughts on being chosen as one of the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012.

CNN: What do you hope this recognition will mean to Operation Freedom Paws?

Mary Cortani: Since June, I have received emails and phone calls from all over the country asking for information on how to get service dogs for veterans. Some requests are coming from the veterans themselves, but most are coming from family members watching their loved ones struggle with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries and mobility issues.

It's heartbreaking to learn about what these veterans and their families are going through, and even harder to hear their stories and know Operation Freedom Paws could help more of them if we had additional resources.

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