Target: Robert A. McDonald, Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs
Goal: Praise efforts to make service dogs more accessible to veterans suffering from mental illness.
Veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may soon be able to purchase service dogs specially trained to help the condition. A new trial by Veterans Affairs (VA) is pairing mentally ill veterans with canine companions in an attempt to measure the improvements in quality of life that they offer. If the dogs are found to have a positive influence on the veterans they are paired with, the VA plans to provide funding to make the specially trained animals more available to ex-servicemen.
PTSD is a common illness among veterans who have witnessed death and excessive violence. It can cause anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks, and night terrors, and in the worst cases can be completely debilitating. While treatments for the illness currently exist, such as counseling and anti-anxiety medications, many veterans will suffer for the rest of their lives.
The service dogs are trained to recognize signs of panic attacks and night terrors and react accordingly. They can retrieve a bottle of water, stand in front of their humans to create personal space in public, find exits in public places to remove their partners from bad situations, and even perform perimeter checks of a veteran’s home during the night. Early research suggests that service dogs can allow severely mentally-ill veterans to regain a more regular lifestyle.
If the initiative is successful, the VA plans to provide financial assistance to more veterans seeking service dogs for PTSD. Currently, there is a waiting list of about 100 people waiting for dogs to be trained. Sign the petition below to praise efforts to make service dogs more available to veterans suffering from mental illness.
Dear Secretary McDonald,
A trial is currently underway that aims to measure the effects of service dogs on the quality of life of veterans who suffer from PTSD. The dogs are trained to recognize the onset of panic attacks and night terrors and help their partners by retrieving water, removing them from high-anxiety situations, and scanning homes for intruders at night. Should the trials be successful, the VA aims to provide financial assistance to veterans seeking service animals.
While PTSD can be a debilitating illness, service dogs can help return a sense of normalcy to a veteran’s life. We, the undersigned, praise your efforts to increase veteran accessibility to service dogs trained to deal with mental illness.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Shannon Coates