November 11th is Veterans Day, a day to honor our brave veterans who 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 (PTSD), mental illness, or physical disabilities after coming home.
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 who have helped our veterans in honor of Veterans Day.
1. Dog Helps Calms Veteran During Interview
Gumbo the dog helps Erick, a veteran, with the challenges of dealing with PTSD.
After serving 16 years in the Army National Guard and serving in Iraq, Erick was grateful to K9s For Warriors for putting Gumbo in his life. During an interview, Erick talked about tough memories, and Gumbo stayed planted by his side.
He began to recount when he was diagnosed with PTSD, and immediately Gumbo reacted, realizing Erick was getting agitated and upset. Gumbo immediately got 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 service dogs are so important.
2. 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 became a lifesaving inspiration for Frank.
For ten years Frank 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, also a combat Marine Corps veteran, trained dogs for Paws of War because she wanted to give back after experiencing how her service dog helped her. Frank was extremely thankful and knew Scarlett would absolutely improve his life.
3. Dog Helps Sergeant With Severe PTSD
After serving in Iraq, Sergeant Alan had one of the most severe types of PTSD. His therapy dog, Frankie, stayed by his side twenty-four-seven, no matter what.
Frankie changed Alan’s life completely and actually helped him live a normal life. Sounds, like a tornado drill siren or even a simple plane flying above him, triggered Alan’s PTSD and put him in a trance-like state.
Frankie was there, however, to bring him back to reality and take his mind away from the noises. She licked him, jumped on him, and did whatever it took to bring Alan comfort and bring him back to the present.
Because of Frankie, Alan was able to sign up for classes at college, bringing Frankie with him — something he would never be able to do without Frankie.
4. 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 memory of 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 felt angry all the time, started drinking heavily, and eventually shut himself off from the world. His dog, Norman, however, turned his world around.
He began feeling better about being in crowds and going places and felt a sense of security. Plus, he was forced to go outside because of his dog, which Chad viewed as a positive.
He wouldn’t be where he is today without his dog.
5. Service Dog Helps Veteran 25 Years Later
Ed was in the army during Operation Desert Shield. Only 100 hours of combat took its toll on Ed, and 25 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 woke Ed up when he had nightmares.
Ed wouldn’t trade Ally for anything.
6. 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 32 medications, and therapy was not helping.
Axel the dog 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 until he was only down to two. Axel watched out for Jason and was always there by his side, no matter what. He helped him with everything from dealing with nightmares to finding lost keys.
7. 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 spent more time outside of his house with Missy than he had 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. Missy was a huge help.
Daniel liked that people paid attention to his dog Missy rather than to him because it lessened his anxiety levels. Missy kept Daniel safe in crowds and even used her body to keep people at a comfortable distance from him.
Missy helped Daniel relax in public situations and kept watch of him at all times.
8. Veteran Graduates Thanks To Service Dog
Paul suffered from PTSD after serving three tours in Iraq. But he still graduated from Motorcycle Mechanics Institute thanks to his service dog, Zoey.
Paul spent two years training to become a motorcycle technician, but he could not have done it without Zoey by his side. Zoey was Paul’s savior and helped him overcome many of his anxieties, comforting him when he was 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.
9. 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 was so thankful he got help with Nyma, especially since he got married and had a daughter. Nyma learned over 80 commands to help make sure Kevin stayed safe at all times.
Do you know a veteran who has been helped by a service or therapy dog? Do you think these dogs can make a difference in veterans’ lives? Let us know and leave a comment below!