This past Valentine’s Day, a former U.S. Marine Corp and retired U.S. Navy combat veteran got to celebrate a new kind of love – the love that comes from the deep healing bond formed between a service dog and his handler. This veteran was John, who recently graduated from our Pups4Patriots™ program with his service dog, Mags!
For many of our nation’s brave veterans, coming home is only the beginning of another daunting battle. The invisible wounds of war, including Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury, can cause debilitating symptoms in veterans, leading to depression, social isolation and, far too often, suicide.
Research shows that specially trained service dogs can reduce stress and anxiety levels, mitigate depression, ease social reintegration, provide comfort and restore confidence in affected veterans – making a world of difference. However, there are many obstacles standing in the way of veterans in need of service dogs including long waiting lists and exorbitant costs, reaching upwards of $30,000 per service dog.
Through our Pups4Patriots™ program, American Humane harnesses the healing powers of the human-animal bond to save lives. We train dogs in search of forever homes to be specialized service dogs and pair them with veterans in need, at no cost to the veteran.
John, our recent graduate, served from 1998 to 2004 and was deployed to Kuwait, Southwest Asia and Saudi Arabia. He lives in Tennessee and is paired with Mags, a male Golden Retriever. John noted the following:
“Dear American Humane, please accept my sincere thanks to you and your generous sponsors for your ongoing support of combat veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI. Through your efforts, life has become much more manageable for me by having a well-trained service dog. American Humane’s trainers have been instrumental in ensuring Mags is able to provide me the daily assistance I need. Bravo Zulu to you for the care and compassion you have given to me.”
“Bravo Zulu” is a naval signal, typically conveyed by flaghoist or voice radio, meaning “Well Done.” Bravo Zulu to you, John and Mags! We wish you both the best in your future lives together.