What Our Leaders Are Saying
Junior Senator, Al Franken regarding
our wounded warriors from OIF/OEF said, “A dogs’ companionship provides
invaluable health benefits, both physical and emotional to veterans
suffering from debilitating injuries and psychological disorders. These
dogs help reduce the suicide rate, decrease the number of
hospitalizations, and lower the cost of medications and human care.”
Franken’s bill has passed the Senate. “These dogs have proven to not
only expand our veterans’ ability to live more fully, they also seem to
have the ability to increase veterans’ morale and quality of life as
According to the Army Surgeon General’s special assistant for mental health, Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, M.D., the Army is using dogs “much more” to help soldiers recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “Animals are not just cute,” Ritchie said. “They provide support.”
One 25-year-old Iraq war veteran reported that he was able to cut his doses of anxiety and sleep medications in half after getting one of the service dogs. He also saw an end to his night terrors and suicidal thoughts.
Lieutenant Colonel Matthew St Laurent, assistant director for occupational therapy at Walter Reed Medical Center says regarding the use of dogs in the treatment program of rehabilitating traumatized veterans, “We’re using dogs a lot for patients with invisible wounds. They have a tremendous effect. Dogs are extremely responsive and their love is unconditional. It is hugely positive.”
“The Pentagon is seeing new ways to treat troops suffering form combat stress such as the use of animals as therapy.” USA TODAY
Therapy dogs have been sent to a war zone for the first time in history to help alleviate combat stress. America’s VETDOGS.
A spokesperson for the VA in Richmond VA says, “I have seen nurses and doctors actually become emotional because they see how much the dogs mean to the patient. It brings a sense of joy that a pill just doesn’t do.”
Ellen Bloom, chief of mental health for the WTB at Fort Lewis says, “Animals are comforting, non-threatening, stress-reducing, and they give unconditional, positive regard to warriors that have been through combat, trauma or medical stress.”
From SPC P. at BAMC, “I am a wounded warrior. I have a chocolate lab that is pretty much my best friend. She helps me in my darker hours. I would love to have her with me all of the time especially when confronted with more serious situations such as large crowds and dealing with the public. Being able to have my four legged best friend by my side through this training is just an amazing thing. She has always been there for me and been able to help me as a comfort dog. After this training she will always be able to be by my side. I will not have to worry so much about will what I am about to do cause a panic attack. I will know I have Cocoa by my side to help me through my everyday tasks I found difficult to do before. I won’t always worry and be on guard, because I will have my best friend by my side.”
“Yes, they provide companionship. But they also can detect changes in a person’s breathing, perspiration or scent to anticipate and ward off an impending panic attack with some well-timed nuzzling. They are trained to let their masters know when it’s time to take their medication and to wake them from terrifying nightmares. Service dogs raise their masters’ sense of well-being. There is evidence to suggest that increasing their numbers would reduce the alarming suicide rate among veterans, decrease the number of hospitalizations, and lower the cost of medications and human care.” Minneapolis Star Tribune/U.S. Senator Al Franken.
The New York Times reported some very tangible successes, with ‘a number of service men and women in the program now able to sleep, no longer needing multiple forms of medication and even getting out of their homes and integrating themselves into society.’
A former Army gunner says, “It’s the greatest thing that ever could happen to me…getting the dog. Now I’m a social butterfly. Whereas before, I was in my house drinking, just dying…doing nothing.”