Service animals have long been known to be a helpful tool for many dealing with disabilities, illnesses, and other ailments. Now, they are also an important ally for veterans coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), and more. Service animals provide many benefits for veterans, including sensing when they require emotional support, providing structure to their daily schedules, and a great opportunity to get out and play.
The Benefits of Service Animals
There are countless benefits for veterans when it comes to having a service animal. Service animals can:
- Reduce suicidal thoughts
- Prevent serious mental breakdowns
- Reduce medical and psychiatric costs
- Lower the risk of violence, alcohol, and drug dependency
- Improve symptoms associated with anxiety and depression
They can also assist with medical emergencies like alerting their veteran to an impending seizure, migraine, or other medical problems.
Qualifying to Be a Service Animal
There’s an intense process to become a service animal, and not all dogs are cut out for the job. It takes a certain temperament, physical agility, and mental awareness that only a select few dogs are born with.
Once these dogs are selected, they endure a very thorough training process before they are matched with a veteran. Since they are faced with difficult tasks that can often mean life or death for a veteran, the training process is extremely important.
Where Service Animals are Allowed
Because of their specialized training, service animals are allowed anywhere humans are allowed, including grocery stores, restaurants, and doctor’s offices. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is legislation that protects the rights of service animals and their owners. This act ensures that they have the same rights as any human to be out in public, assisting their veteran.
The benefits of a veteran having a service animal are vast. In addition to all of these ways service animals help veterans, they also provide love and companionship that our soldiers are often in need of upon returning home from active duty. Service animals are an important component of a veteran’s recovery and return to civilian life.