Families of soldiers should know that records from the Department of Veterans Affairs indicated that 502,546 veterans were treated for a primary or secondary diagnoses of PTSD. Of this group, 24 percent served in recent conflicts including Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. As a result of PTSD, these veterans often suffer from depression, sleeplessness, uneasiness in crowded places and a fear of loud noises.
A group known as the Guardians has begun a therapy dog program to help these veterans cope with life back at home. The dogs are usually rescued from shelters and taken through a rigorous training program that prepares them for their new job. The group also recently started getting some of the dogs from shelters on military bases; and they hope to continue the practice. Some of the dogs ended up in the base shelters because their owners were deployed.
Once the dogs are ready, they are taken to their new owner who is often hundreds or even thousands of miles away. The animal’s goal is to make the veteran feel loved and accepted with the hope that all of the bottled emotions will come to the surface. The dogs are basically on-call for therapy 24 hours a day.
PTSD is common among veterans returning from war zones. It can show itself in many ways and can be very hard for the veteran to deal with. Family and friends often have difficulty understanding the personality changes and don’t know how to help. A veteran’s affairs attorney may be able to help by working to find treatment options and perhaps helping with the often time-consuming process of filing for disability payments.
Source: NBC News The Daily Nightly, “Battle Buddies: ‘Rescued’ Dogs Rescue Soldiers From Scars of PTSD“, Gabe Gutierrez, June 09, 2013.
Our monthly newsletter features about important and up-to-date veterans' law news, keeping you informed about the changes that matter.