So here is our new page! Tell me what you think. I value feedback in both forms!!!
So today, I wanted to talk about the news story that aired on Thurs evening on News Channel 3 WTKR.(http://wtkr.com/2013/12/05/marine-fighting-to-train-service-dogs-for-ptsd-tbi-veterans-after-pentagon-va-refuse-to-fund-it/ ) I am really glad this story came out and hoping to help further this cause. Few realize that there are not options for these guys/gals in the military who suffer from PTSD. A few statistics...... 1 in every 5 military members returning from overseas suffers from PTSD and 18 veterans commit suicide every day. All over something so easy to prevent and help with. About a year ago the VA cut all funding for the PTSD dogs, now as of Nov 1, there is a new study to see if there is actual evidence that these dogs help......the study is 3 yrs. These veterans have to wait either 2-5 yrs, pay between $15-$20,000 a dog, take the chance they may be scammed, or do without. Very sad indeed for someone who has put their life on the line to give us the freedoms we have. Being prior military myself, I know. I was in the first Desert Storm/Desert Shield, highly patriotic and love my country. But in this aspect, the veterans are getting let down for their service. To many of them have lost their lives already to come back here and loose it because they were let down and felt they had no other option.
Early Feb of this year, I sat down and met with an officer who called me to help with the need of these service dogs. She works with veterans with PTSD as well as her husband has PTSD. I was truly unaware of the lack of help and trained dogs these veterans have access to and the trouble they have just getting them. Yes, there are programs out there and there is a 2-5 yr waiting list or they have quite taking applications as they have a 5 yr back up. Bethesda, MD does have a program, but they have to be out of the military before they can even be put on the list.....and yes the list for this is also 2 yrs long. Imagine your worst fear ever and imagine having to live that every day for 2-5 yrs. Not very pleasant and they each have different set of triggers. Depression, anxieties, socially inept.... For some its crowds, some its loud noises, helicopters, and even something as simple as a box of trash on the side of the road can trigger these episodes. How? well, imagine that every box you see blows up and kills someone....you end up very wary of boxes. If you look up PTSD there is a medical explanation behind these behaviors that are completely out of control of the member.
This is not just a problem of our military, there are others who suffer from PTSD but military is the most common. For a clear explanation of PTSD it is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood. Most survivors of trauma return to normal given a little time. However, some people will have stress reactions that do not go away on their own, or may even get worse over time. These individuals may develop PTSD. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person’s daily life.
People with PTSD experience three different kinds of symptoms. The first set of symptoms involves reliving the trauma in some way such as becoming upset when confronted with a traumatic reminder or thinking about the trauma when you are trying to do something else. The second set of symptoms involves either staying away from places or people that remind you of the trauma, isolating from other people, or feeling numb. The third set of symptoms includes things such as feeling on guard, irritable, or startling easily.
PTSD is marked by clear biological changes as well as psychological symptoms. PTSD is complicated by the fact that people with PTSD often may develop additional disorders such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory and cognition, and other problems of physical and mental health. The disorder is also associated with impairment of the person’s ability to function in social or family life, including occupational instability, marital problems and divorces, family discord, and difficulties in parenting.
So your probably asking how do the dogs help with this? Well, they give the veteran a sense of normal. Alot of them talk with the dog when they wont talk with anyone else because the dog doesn't judge, they give them a sense of security by watching their back, blocking people getting to close, reminding those that have memory lapses to take their meds, pulling them out of depression episodes as well as if they start to fade out of the present, the dog also helps keep them in the here and now. They also work to wake them up from night terrors by turning on lights and waking them. These dogs are very valuable to those that suffer. One of the gentleman I work with right now and the one in the news story has started trying to pave the way and help others like him.
There is a fund that you can donate to help veterans get much needed service dogs. The gentleman in the news footage set it up. It is through Navy Federal and you can walk in and donate. It is under Veterans Service Dog Training and the access # 7512320 to donate.
Please help these service members as much as I am. For some their life depends on it!