Service men and women regularly return from active duty with some level of PTSD. In the past, there was very little that could be done for them. Back when the condition was referred to as shell shock, patients were sent places for “long rests.” Nobody knew how to best treat it. In recent years, however, the use of therapy dogs has been put into play with really encouraging results. In fact, the results have been so good, that the Pups for Patriots Act was recently introduced.
Pups for Patriots
With the introduction of H.R. 3335, championed by Congressmen Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX), the Department of Veterans Affairs would be responsible for creating a pilot program which would provide increased numbers of highly-trained service dogs to returning vets struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The bill also includes a list of newly established requirements pertaining to national standards on the selection, training and assessment of the dogs chosen.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Animals have a way of calming us and making us feel better. Being around pets has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve confidence levels and imbue us with a sense of safety and acceptance. I’d say they never judge us, but I’m not so sure about that. One thing that is for certain is they’re always happy to see us — except cats when you show up hours after their feeding time. They can be extremely fussy then, but that’s a whole other story.
In recent years there has been an uptick in the number of non-profits training dogs for things beyond leading the blind and assisting the police or the military sniffing out one thing or another. The names have changed a bit, too. While in some sense they are all service dogs, the animals trained for this purpose are more often referred to as therapy dogs. Regardless of title, the problem is that the amount of time, training and money put into the endeavor is staggering, costing as much as $30,000 per dog!
Fighting the Good Fight
“The benefits of service dog therapy can in some ways go beyond anything that comes in a pill bottle,” Congressman Bilirakis stated. “Our legislation would help support service dog therapy as an alternative treatment by connecting the VA to the many qualified nonprofits nationwide who train and provide service dogs. Many of us have known the unconditional love dogs bring to our lives. This bond can do wonders to help our nation’s heroes as they deal with their invisible wounds.”
Benefits of Service Dogs
At this point, the average waiting period for veterans to be paired with an animal is 18 to 24 months, which is an unbearable amount of time if you’re in need of help. Hopefully this will change all that, if it passes. If you feel strongly about the issue, you can always contact your own congressmen and women and encourage them to support the bill. Every little bit counts.
Source: Good News for Pets