It has been estimated that on any given day in the United States, 22 Service members of the U.S. military take their own lives. Suffering from sometimes incapacitating and debilitating traumas that present in Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome for a large number of American Veterans, service dogs have been proven to assist the disabled and keep up their spirits when suicidal moods take them over.
A non-profit named Pets for Vets is working to train rescue dogs and pair them with veterans. The relationship between a service animal and a veteran who is suffering from PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injuries is a special one which reaps many rewards for both.
At the present time, the VA does not cover the cost of service dogs for vets, excluding if the veteran is blind or have other ‘physical problems’. It is estimated that 10-20% of American Veterans returning from foreign wars after 9/11 are returning home afflicted by debilitating PTSD. The dogs and their relationships with the dogs are providing a rope to hold onto, a leash to walk a friend around the block, instead of a tool to commit suicide.
Paws for Purple Hearts is a program which pairs a wounded service member with a dog (Golden Retriever or Labrador) and the results is startling: Emotional distance is lessened as the owner must convey commands to the dog, teaching the dogs commands retains their memory and pushes the owner to be firm and assertive, sleep returns to the nightmare-ridden vet to know that an alert watchdog is by his/her side. K9s for Warriors is also a group whose mission is to pair service members with canines.
So, what is taking so long to fund programs which heal these wounded warriors?