Veterans Day is a day to honor our brave veterans who have made sacrifices for our country to fight and serve in the United States Armed Forces. Dogs and veterans have an extremely important relationship. Dogs can help veterans who suffer from Post-traumatic stress disorder, mental illness, or physical disabilities after coming back from war.
Therapy and service dogs can sometimes be vital in treating veterans and can significantly improve veterans’ ability to recover and process what they have been through. Not only do dogs make great pets, but they can actually help veterans just live their normal day to day lives. Here are some of the dogs that have helped our veterans in honor of Veterans Day.
1. Four Veterans Matched With Therapy Dogs
Four dogs were rescued from a shelter where they were going to be euthanized. They were brought to Maine for a special mission–to help veterans struggling with PTSD. These dogs’ lives have come full circle. They had their own rough starts in life, but now they are getting to help veterans with their difficulties. The founder of the program also was diagnosed with PTSD, and his service dog helped him feel comfortable around people again. The four dogs were placed with veterans in the hopes they would help them feel more relaxed doing simple things like going to the grocery store or the beach. They are truly going to make a difference.
2. Dog Helps Calms Veteran During Interview
Gumbo the dog helps Erick, a veteran, with the challenges of dealing with PTSD. After serving sixteen years in the Army National Guard and serving in Iraq, Erick is grateful to K9s For Warriors for putting Gumbo in his life. During an interview, Erick talks about tough memories, and Gumbo stays planted by his side. He begins to recount when he was diagnosed with PTSD, and immediately Gumbo reacts, realizing Erick is getting agitated and upset. Gumbo immediately gets into his arms, licking his face and putting himself against Erick’s body. It’s amazing how the instant Gumbo knew Erick was uncomfortable he acted. This is why therapy dogs are so important.
3. Veteran Surprised With Service Dog At Giants Game
Marine Corps veteran Frank from Long Island was surprised with a seven-month-old German Shepherd named Scarlett at a Giants game. Scarlett was rescued from a shelter and has become a lifesaving inspiration for Frank. For the last ten years Frank has struggled with PTSD. He had been waiting for two years for a service dog and was then surprised at the game while being honored for his service. Amanda, who is also a combat Marine Corps veteran, trains dogs for Paws of War because she wants to give back after experiencing how her service dog helped her. Frank is extremely thankful and believes Scarlett will absolutely improve his life.
4. Service Dog Helps Sergeant With Severe PTSD
After serving in Iraq, Sergeant Alan has one of the most severe types of PTSD. His service dog Frankie is by his side twenty-four-seven, no matter what. Frankie has changed Alan’s life completely and has actually helped him live a normal life. Sounds, like a tornado drill siren or even a simple plane flying above him, trigger Alan’s PTSD and put him in a trance-like state. Frankie is there, however, to bring him back to reality and take his mind away from the noises. She licks him, jumps on him, and does whatever it takes to bring Alan comfort and bring him back to the present. Because of Frankie, Alan is now able to sign up for classes at college, bringing Frankie with him–something he would never be able to do without Frankie.
5. Dog Helps Veteran Go Outside Again
After returning home from Afghanistan, Chad began to experience PTSD. The worst part of the experience for Chad was the IEDS, which were often stepped on, not just by soldiers, but even civilians. He was left with a feeling that any day he could die, and it started to wear him down. He was left traumatized. Back home in Canada, Chad was left feeling angry all the time, was drinking heavily, and eventually shut himself off from the world. His dog however has turned his world around. He now feels better about being in crowds and going places and feels a sense of security. Plus, he is forced to go outside now because of his dog, which Chad views as a positive. He wouldn’t be where he is today without his dog.
6. Service Dog Helps Veteran Twenty-Five Years Later
Ed was in the army during Operation Desert Shield. Only one hundred hours of combat took its toll on Ed, and twenty five years later, it caught up with him. He suffered from depression and became a shut in. When he went to a friend’s house, he pet her dog, and in that second he calmed down. He then realized a service dog would be the right fit for him. Ally the yellow Labrador turned his life around. Even though he had pain, Ally lessened it dramatically. Ally also helped him go outside and begin to socialize again. The beloved dog even wakes Ed up when he has nightmares. Ed wouldn’t trade Ally for anything.
7. Service Dog Helps Marine Cut Back Medications
Axel the German Shepherd dramatically changed Marine Captain Jason Haag’s life. A year before, he could not even walk to 7-Eleven and buy a pack of gum because of his PTSD. Jason was trained as a soldier to be ready for danger at any minute. In war, he was dealing with constant gunfire and IEDS, but back home, he couldn’t turn it off. He had been on thirty two medications, and therapy was not helping. Axel saved his life, and Jason, in turn, saved his. Axel was two weeks away from being put down when he was adopted and put to work as a service dog. Having Axel helped Jason wean off his medications, and now he is only down to two. Axel watches out for Jason and is always there by his side, no matter what. He helps him with everything from dealing with nightmares, to finding lost keys.
8. Service Dog Helps Texas Veteran Live Life at Ease
Marine veteran Daniel Tennant is living life more at ease thanks to his new companion and service dog, Missy. Daniel has been outside of his house more with Missy than he has been since returning from war. Daniel was very nervous around crowds, so he wrote to Service Dogs for Independence in the hopes of getting some relief. Stores were hard for Daniel because he did not like the feeling of not knowing who was behind him. Daniel likes that people pay attention to his dog Missy rather than to him because it lessens his anxiety levels. Missy keeps Daniel safe in crowds and even uses her body to keep people at a comfortable distance from Daniel. Missy has helped Daniel relax in public situations and keeps watch of him at all times.
9. Veteran Graduates Thanks To Service Dog
Paul suffers from PTSD after serving three tours in Iraq. Now he is graduating from Motorcycle Mechanics Institute thanks to his service dog, Zoey. Paul spent the last two years training to become a motorcycle technician, but he could not have done it without Zoey by his side. Zoey is Paul’s savior and has helped him overcome many of his anxieties, comforting him when he is overwhelmed. Zoey even wore a graduation cap and gown and walked the stage alongside Paul. She also got her own special certificate because of how much she helped Paul.
10. Service Dog Helps Veteran Reintegrate Into Life
Kevin is a veteran who was a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and twice deployed to Iraq. He returned home and began having post-traumatic stress, but getting his service dog Nyma completely turned his life around. While he served, Kevin was on top of the trucks, often the first to get shot at, which really affected him. Coming back home, he suffered from anxiety and had trouble sleeping in silence because he was so used to hearing gunfire. While at first he did not want to admit he had a problem, he is now so thankful he got help with Nyma, especially now that he is married and has a daughter. Nyma knows over eighty commands to help make sure Kevin is safe at all times.
Do you know a veteran who has been helped by a service dog? Let us know and leave a comment below.