On Veteran's Day we honor the service and sacrifice of those who have served their country. Often their sacrifice doesn't end when their enlisted service is over. Many soldiers return with physical disabilities forever altering the way they live. But others have invisible wounds that are just as serious. Veterans often suffer from depression, anxiety and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) when they come home. If left untreated, these mental health issues can become a heavy burden for veterans and their families.
It's well known dogs can provide emotional support, so training service dogs to work with veterans to counter the effects of PTSD and other anxiety-related illnesses is a no-brainer. A number of organizations have formed in recent years to do just that. One of the largest organizations training dogs to work with vets is KPs For Warriors, based in Florida. To date, they've rescued more than 700 dogs and trained them to work with 300+ veterans. Because of the program's overwhelming success, founder Shari Duval says, "We currently have a year-long waiting list; we must do more. Our plans are to expand our current program to serve more warriors."
Based in Maryland, Warrior Canine Connection has similar goals, but veterans themselves are involved in training the dogs. Their mission-based trauma recovery approach means as part of their training, veterans have to "Teach the dogs the world is a safe place. Through that process, they must convince themselves of the same." Not only the dogs, but the veterans and their families benefit from this new outlook.
Veterans often pay a high price for their service. With service dog programs helping to mitigate the effects of PTSD and other anxiety disorders, they can begin to heal. Especially on Veteran's Day, don't forget to thank a veteran for his or her service. We hope you'll be inspired to find out if there are any veteran service dog programs in your area to support!