Thankfully, our nation is beginning to recognize more every day that military veterans’ psychological needs are just as real and valid as other, more common physical disabilities we so often associate with service dogs.
You may have seen stories in recent news about veterans being kicked out or not allowed in restaurants with their service dogs because of the staff’s inability to recognize a “PTSD service dog” as a “real” service dog. With the news reporting on the matter more frequently, restaurants nationwide have begun to understand. A veteran with a PTSD service dog, and a blind man with his guide dog for example, should be welcomed equally in all places of business. Service dogs help not only those who cannot see, but also those who have seen too much.
Service dogs can be trained for a variety of specific needs to assist their owner. Where the guide dog for the blind may be particularly more skilled in leading in a walk and being cautious for obstacles in its path, a service dog for a veteran with PTSD is more skilled in monitoring the veteran for debilitating panic attacks, flashbacks, or depression. There have been numerous accounts by veterans who share their stories of their service dogs, who helped them during times of need.
Sadly, twenty-two veterans commit suicide each day. Thousands of dogs are euthanized each day.
This practical solution of training dogs to be of service and paired with veterans in need is a wonderful life-saving concept that the following organizations have put to work.
Want to help? Donate or volunteer for these nonprofit organizations, they depend solely on your donations and assistance to keep costs minimal or free for the military veteran.
THE BATTLE BUDDY FOUNDATION
The Battle Buddy Foundation’s mission is to ensure that veterans and their families receive programs and services that will help them acclimate back to family and civilian life. They accomplish this by:
· Providing highly trained psychiatric and mobility service dogs to veterans of all eras suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and physical limitations at no cost.
· Connecting veterans to employment and housing opportunities within our network of Veteran-focused organizations.
· Building a community of peer support for veterans and their families through programs, events, and social media.
· The Battle Buddy Foundation was founded by veterans to serve veterans. All our efforts are aimed at effecting long term and positive change in the lives of combat veterans and their families.
AMERICA’S VET DOGS
America’s Vet Dogs serves the needs of disabled veterans from all eras who have honorably served our country. VetDogs provides guide dogs for individuals who are blind or have low vision; hearing dogs for those who have lost their hearing later in life; service dogs for those with other physical disabilities; facility dogs as part of the rehabilitation process in military and VA hospitals, and PTSD service dogs to help mitigate the effects of PTSD in an effort to provide the emotional and physical support needed. America’s Vet Dogs’ mission is to help those who have served our country honorably live with dignity and independence.
CANINES FOR VETERANS
Known as the “triple win”, Canines for Veterans program has twice been awarded a Newman’s Own Award for program innovations supporting our military and their families, is approved by the US Department of Labor as an apprenticeship program and was named a Joining Forces Community Challenge finalist.
Launched in 2008, the program began at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune until August 2010 when it transferred to the Navy Consolidated Brig, Charleston, South Carolina. Canines for Service has been training service dogs for over 18 years. From making sure the service dogs are trained to meet ADA requirements in the tasks that they can do, to developing specialty skills to assist a specific client; it is about the person we serve.
PUPPY JAKE FOUNDATION
The Puppy Jake Foundation is dedicated to help wounded military veterans with the assistance of well-bred and professionally trained service dogs. Veterans’ injuries may be invisible such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or physical mobility impairments. The Foundation advocates for increased awareness and accessibility for those accompanied by a service dog in everyday situations.
PAWS FOR PURPLE HEARTS
Paws for Purple Hearts (PPH) is the first program of its kind to offer therapeutic intervention for veterans and active-duty military personnel by teaching those with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to train service dogs for their comrades with combat-related injuries. PPH is built upon the trusted and time-honored tradition of veterans helping veterans.
Founded in 2006 as a program of Bergin University of Canine Studies, the pilot PPH program at VA Palo Alto Health Care System, California, continues serving veterans today. PPH initiated and trained staff to operate canine therapeutic programs at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Maryland), the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (Maryland), and Fort Belvoir (Virginia).