Service Dogs for PTSD

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Meet Wounded Warrior Homes’ very own PTSD Pup, Molly!

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Objective: To inform veterans of the benefits service dogs can provide.

Time to read: 4 minutes

Dogs can be more than just a man’s best friend—they can truly change someone’s life. In particular, service dogs have proven to benefit and aid veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Dogs are ideal companions who offer qualities even other people cannot offer. Some of the benefits a dog can provide include, but are not limited to:

  • take orders well when trained, which provides comfort to many servicemen and veterans
  • can reduce stress
  • help bring out feelings of love and fun
  • help with episodes of depression
  • assist in coping with emotional overload

On top of serving as emotional support, dogs offer physical services that protect PTSD sufferers from some of their worst fears. Service dogs give all kinds of support, such as:

  • help bring servicemen and veterans out of flashbacks, even wake the owner from nightmares and comfort them
  • block other people from getting too close to their respective owner
  • assist in a medical crisis
  • help lower blood pressure
  • help with episodes of depression
  • provide a reason to get out of the house and spend time outdoors

While the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) strives to make service dogs free for all veterans, they have made it to where all veterinary and medical care services for service dogs are completely free. On January 27th of 2014, the VA, partnered with Trupanion, launched the U.S. Veteran Service Dog Program, which allows veterans with certified service dogs unlimited access to veterinary care. The program enables Trupanion to pay 100 percent of veterans’ veterinary bills for certified service dogs.

“Whether it’s a regular veterinary practice or an emergency hospital in the middle of the night–they can call us at any time,” a spokesperson from Trupanion says. “They then just need to email or fax the bill to us and we can pay them directly through Vet Direct Pay, a system that allows them to receive direct payment.”

Dogs provide an abundance of support and services for veterans, but there is a bit of necessary public awareness if you find yourself around service dogs. The most important rule to keep in mind is that these dogs are working. Therefore, be conscious not to distract them. Secondly, do not be offended if you are not granted permission to communicate or pet a service dog.

Here are a few points to keep in mind when meeting or passing by a service dog:

  • do not distract the dog
  • do not pet or communicate in any way with the dog without permission
  • offer help, but do not insist
  • do not draw unnecessary attention to a service dog team
  • do not photograph or video record a dog team without permission
  • be conscious of your surroundings, the service dog, and the actual dog owner

Ultimately, service dogs are not for everyone, but they absolutely have and can provide both emotional and physical support to veterans. These dogs are highly intelligent, trained to perform their job to the best of their abilities. Service dogs are not just pets—they are a source of companionship and protection.