For many people, dogs enrich their lives and their emotional state. Veterans with PTSD should consider whether a service dog or an emotional support dog would be right for them. Many veterans have come forward stating that dogs have alleviated some of their PTSD-related symptoms. While research is still scarce on this issue, the VA does agree that dogs:
- help bring out feelings of love
- are good companions
- take orders when they are well trained. This can be especially comforting for a veteran who was used to giving orders in the military
- can help reduce stress and are fun
- are a good reason to get out of the house and spend time with others
While owning a dog is certainly no substitute for effective PTSD treatment, it can help. Service dogs are specially trained to help their owners with specific physical disabilities, often performing tasks that the owner cannot do on his/her own. Emotional support dogs, meanwhile, help an owner with mental disabilities, and do not require specific training but a mental health provider can provide a note that explains the owner's need for the canine companion. For more on dogs and PTSD click here.
For information on service/emotional support dogs see these links:
If you have questions about a PTSD claim, visit Sean Kendall's PTSD practice area page.
(Photo from Next Step Service Dogs website, a program that trains dogs for veterans)