Helping veterans navigate through life with dignity and strength.
American war veterans return home from their heroic and sacrificial service to our country with a host of unique and severe problems potentially affecting them. Service dogs and therapy dogs for veterans and current military members have played a major role in helping get them back on their feet and living life to the fullest.
Veteran’s quality of life is many times diminished by mental and physical strain acquired during service in high-stress areas of the world and seeing active combat. They have faced unimaginable hardship and difficulty in daily life abroad.
As such, when servicemen and women return home from abroad, they have special needs and requirements that an average person typically doesn't experience. Some of those needs may involve psychological observation and assistance, with everything from therapists to medication. Servicemen and women are also at greater risk for mental issues, suicide, and a host of other physical and psychological problems.
Therapy Dogs Bringing Hope for the Military Community
One form of psychological support that has been proven extremely popular and successful in the military community and for returning American war veterans is the use of therapy dogs. These highly trained dogs are being used on the home front in a way to care for veterans returning home from stressful situations.
Specifically in this case, therapy dogs provide for returning soldiers the structure, care, and love that these soldiers often so desperately crave. Therapy dogs can visit vets in the hospital to do some much needed cheering up and to give out some great puppy love. Some of the images of these dogs resting their heads on the laps of veterans is so touching it can bring tears to your eyes.
Training With Love
Therapy dogs are trained dogs that have been specifically tested for their temperament and situational awareness. Most of these dogs are required to pass the American Kennel Club CGC Tests, short for Canine Good Citizen tests. Following that certification, the Therapy Dogs International organization has a stringent test for dogs to pass to be certified as a therapy dog. Pet Partners also has training and evaluations for therapy dogs.
Therapy dogs are seen working in a variety of areas, from visiting sick and injured people in hospitals to spending time in nursing homes, to working with children who are undergoing traumatic experiences. In short, therapy dogs are trained and specifically used to make people in stressful situations feel more at ease.
Therapy Dogs and You
Therapy dogs are also sometimes allowed into certain areas and under certain permissions that most un-trained dogs are not. They can be a permanent source of accompaniment for soldiers and returning war veterans in the right situation. But therapy dogs are more often used in multiple situations to help a variety of people in a variety of environments.
Because they are very well trained and highly intelligent animals, therapy dogs are proficient at doing the jobs they are designated to do. They catch on quickly, show great loyalty, and provide more than just companionship for those who need and deserve it the most.
Sometimes referred by psychologists or therapists, it is often critical to use a qualified, trained dog in therapy work with veterans. For veterans, therapy dogs work to provide ongoing psychological care that humans simply can’t duplicate.
What are therapy dogs?
Therapy dogs are specially trained to provide comfort and support to people in a variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and other facilities. These dogs are typically well-behaved, calm, and gentle, and are able to interact with people of all ages and backgrounds in a positive way. Therapy dogs are not service animals, but rather provide a non-medical form of therapy to those in need.
How can therapy dogs benefit military veterans?
Military veterans can benefit from therapy dogs in a number of ways. Some of the most common benefits include:
- Emotional support: Therapy dogs can provide a sense of comfort and companionship to veterans who may be struggling with loneliness or isolation. The presence of a therapy dog can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression and can provide a sense of emotional support for those who may be struggling with the effects of PTSD or other mental health issues.
- Stress relief: Therapy dogs can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation in veterans. Petting a dog or spending time with one can lower blood pressure and heart rate, and can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and tension.
- Increased socialization: Therapy dogs can provide an opportunity for veterans to socialize and connect with others, which can be especially beneficial for those who may be struggling with social isolation. Interacting with a therapy dog can also help to improve communication skills and increase self-esteem.
- Physical therapy: In some cases, therapy dogs can also be used to assist with physical therapy for veterans who have suffered physical injuries. For example, a therapy dog may be trained to retrieve objects or assist with mobility tasks, which can help to improve mobility and physical function.
What are some organizations that provide service or therapy dogs for veterans?
There are a number of organizations that provide more information and/or therapy dogs to military veterans, including:
- Canine Companions for Independence: This organization provides therapy dogs to military veterans with physical disabilities, including those who have suffered injuries as a result of service.
- Pet Partners: This organization trains and registers therapy animal teams, including therapy dogs, to visit a variety of settings, including VA hospitals and other facilities serving military veterans.
- Therapy Dogs International: This organization trains and registers therapy dogs and their handlers to provide comfort and support to people in need, including military veterans.
- Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs: This organization trains and registers therapy dogs and their handlers to provide comfort and support to people in need, including military veterans.
- Alliance of Therapy Dogs: This organization trains and registers therapy dogs and their handlers to provide comfort and support to people in need, including military veterans.
Therapy dogs can provide a valuable source of support and comfort for military veterans who are struggling with the challenges of transitioning back to civilian life. These animals can help to reduce stress, provide emotional support, and increase socialization, all of which can be beneficial for those who have served our country.
If you are a military veteran in need of support, consider reaching out to one of the organizations listed above to see if a therapy dog may be right for you.
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