PTSD Dogs are a Veteran’s Best Friend

dogs1There is scientific proof that people with pets live longer. They also help you lift your mood, help to relieve stress, and provide emotional support. Personally, I like the fact that my dog doesn’t talk back and loves me unconditionally. Not only that he is always happy to see me. I know that since I got my dog a few months ago my mood has improved with him around. He is a very smart dog and loving too.
For veterans who suffer from various mental conditions such as PTSD it can be a great step in the right direction and provide you with therapy at home and everywhere you go because service dogs are allowed anywhere. All you have to do is talk with your mental health team at the VA and it is possible you might qualify for a service dog or emotional-support dog. In addition, you may be giving a dog a home that might otherwise be put down. I think that’s a definite win-win situation.
dogs2These dogs can help bring feelings of love, companionship, get you out of the house, and they are a great way to meet new people. The dogs are well-trained and used to taking orders. They are also very fun. If you are able to do physical things they can be trained to catch a frisbee or a ball which is a blast at the park.
dogs3Recovering from PTSD is no easy task, but these dogs have been known to literally save the lives of many veterans. If you see one with a service dog just ask them and they will tell you. The last time I talked to a Vietnam veteran with one he said that his wife died and he was very lonely and that’s when the PTSD started to get worse. He told his mental health team and they got him a dog. He told me that before that he was seriously thinking of suicide. He was smiling and petting the dog like it was his angel. I was almost in tears because I love it when these therapies work for my fellow veterans.
dogs4Have you ever felt uncomfortable in crowds or felt uneasy standing close to a stranger? Have you scanned a building for danger? Evidence-based treatments have proved that these dogs can help you deal with some parts of living with PTSD and you no longer will feel uncomfortable in these situations.
Of course, there are some people who still feel uncomfortable. For example, the dog may keep people from coming too close so that you could become dependant on the dog to provide security. success comes when the veteran trains the dog to allow certain people closer. I have heard from one veteran that he didn’t care for the dog because it would not allow him to branch out more, but he did learn from it somewhat and he was able to do more on his own and gave the dog back to help another veteran. Like any other therapy, everyone is different. However, on the whole, this is a great program for most.
What’s the difference between service dogs and emotional-support dogs? A service dog is one that is trained to do specific tasks for disabled veterans. They are able to pick up things, guide a person with vision problems, or help someone who falls or loses balance easily. They even can be trained to get dangerous objects out of the way in case of seizure.
dogs5An emotional support dog is the one used for veterans with PTSD. They provide protection, give emotional support, or they can be a companion, your best buddy. They are also called comfort or support dogs. Usually a regular pet can be your emotional support dog if a mental health provider writes you a letter stating that the owner has a mental health condition or disability and needs the dog’s help for treatment.
The emotional support dog is not always allowed in all public spaces such as restaurants or stores, but in some cases you can get permission to have them in places such as an apartment that doesn’t normally allow pets or an airplane. Most veterans I’ve seen with them take them to the VA where we all know that you will most likely be asked to hurry up and wait.
dogs8Of course pets require constant attention and that may not be up your alley. You have to be a responsible owner. They can cost a good deal of money as well between food and veterinarian’s bills. If you are unsure about this situation you should discuss it with your doctor first. If you have PTSD and you’re unsure if you can provide a safe and caring environment for a pet you may want to wait until after you have completed some treatment for PTSD first and then see where you are at.
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