Each year, hundreds of thousands of military service personnel return home from deployment, expecting to readjust to normal life. Some of these returning active and retired military workers are diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Symptoms of PTSD

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as shell-shock and PSS (Post Stress Syndrome) is a type of illness that often occurs after one has experienced a life-threatening situation, extreme stress and anxiety, or some kind of emotional trauma. It is an illness that does not just affect vets; it affects everyone in their households.

Classic symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Night terrors
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Withdrawal
  • Angry outbursts
  • Violent behavior
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia

Many vets who return home after being deployed feel torn apart and alone. And although their family is often there to support them, they can not help but to feel as if no one will ever really understand them. Many vets are drastically changed and emotionally scarred after being exposed to firsthand violence in cultures and societies that are drastically different than their own. While it is not uncommon for vets to try and mask their emotional turmoil and distress, the effects are manifestly physically and can wreak havoc on their lives. In fact, it is not uncommon for service men to feel exceptarily transformed when someone enters their personal sense of space.

Treatment

While there are many different treatments that can be used to treat this illness, many veterans are finding relief with special therapy dogs. Therapy dogs offer a safe, effective and all natural way for military personnel suffering from PTSD to overcome their illness. These specially trained service dogs are the ideal size and have the ideal temperament and sociability factors that enable them to establish trust with vets who suffer from PTSD.

Military service pets help to bring servicemen out of flashbacks and help to restore a sense of honor, responsibility, hope and self-awareness. These dogs also can sense when a vet is about to have a panic attack and can dial 911. Ultimately, these dogs help to reduce a vet's need and reliance on anti-anxiety medicines. Military therapy service dogs' act as buffers, making it virtually impossible for PTSD sufferers to experience isolation that can trigger a PTSD episode.

Therapy dogs prevent servicemen from withdrawal from the world and their lives. Military therapy dogs are trained to perform certain tasks to meet the individual needs of their owners. These tasks include keeping others from violating personal space boundaries, turning on lights, snapping a vet out of a nightmare or flashback, and providing reassurance in uncomfortable situations and environments. Vets who end up getting a therapy dog, are able to return to family life and readjust successfully to being back home.

VA and military medical facilities have these dogs onsite and provide additional services for service personnel that suffer from emotional and social issues, including Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Although the VA administration does not supply service dogs to go home with vets who struggle with PTSD, there are a growing number of organizations that match vets with PTSD therapy dogs. Organizations that do the matching allow the therapy dogs to be adopted by the vets.