If you're lucky, you understand firsthand the joy a dog can bring to someone's life. Dogs are loyal companions that have no boundaries when it comes to love. They aren't there to judge us, but rather to become our best friends who are there through all life's obstacles and triumphs. Dogs used for emotional rehabilitation are know as Emotional Service Animals (ESA). One such use case for emotional support animals is the pairing with military veterans suffering from PTSD. In honor of this year's 99th anniversary of Veterans Day, we want to highlight the positive impact dogs can have on someone who suffers from PTSD.
On average, 20 veterans commit suicide every day. Veterans dealing with PTSD tend to detach themselves from society. The effects of this leads to feelings of depression and anxiety. To combat these negative feelings, companion dogs provide security and comfort that makes it possible for an increasing number of individuals post-military to cope with PTSD.
There are a plethora of benefits that come with a veteran having an animal as their life companion. In a recent study, 85% of dog parents said their dog helped them get through a difficult time in their life. It is proven that animals can alleviate stress and help people with depression. Having a pet does not only provide us the feeling of warmth, it also gives us responsibility. For veterans, responsibility gives life structure and purpose. Crystal, an Army veteran told Pets for Patriots, "I was dealing with PTSD and I needed something routine," she says. "I needed something to take care of, and I needed to be responsible.” That's when the organization helped her meet Dayzee, a senior Chihuahua. Of course, with pet ownership also comes the responsibility of being active (with your animal), which in itself is an extra benefit. Exercising releases endorphins, which is our brain's "feel good" chemical. Additionally, physical touch has a substantial impact on humans, and yet again, animals provide us this comfort. Petting a dog can reduce stress and lower blood pressure. And yet still, dogs provide an outlet to communicate. After all, dogs are great listeners, are they not? Another hero from Pets for Patriots, Tom, talks about how his rescue dog Turbo helps him, "Dogs tug on you a certain way that people can't. When I get emotional about stuff, Turbo immediately comes over and gets in my lap," Tom says. "I talk to her a lot of times about things."
There are programs across the United States that make having a companion animal possible for veterans. Organizations like Pets for Patriots, which has a mission to end animal homelessness while giving back to military veterans with the gift of a four-legged companion. Additionally, Pets for Vets is an organization whose goal is to help heal the emotional wounds of military veterans by pairing them with a shelter dog, specially selected to match his or her personality.
In this space, poundWISHES is working directly with an organization for veterans called Dog Tag Buddies. DTB are doing incredible things to help veterans find their forever friends. They work with each of our veterans individually to select rescue dogs to serve as emotional support or service dogs based on their lifestyle and individual needs. The people at Dog Tag Buddies have a deep commitment to improve the lives of veterans. To learn more about and support the wonderful work of DTB, check out their campaign.
Here at poundWISHES this Veterans Day, we'd like to give a huge shout of gratefulness to all the rescue organizations and nonprofits whose mission it is to help both veterans and animals together. If you're a rescue or nonprofit that needs fundraising support, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're an animal lover and support of vets and would like to get involved in any of the rescues we've mentioned, visit any of our vet campaigns, including Dog Tag Buddies, which we're highlighting for Veterans Day this week.