The holiday season is a time of thanksgiving, cheer and hope for millions. Sadly, for those who live with mental health issues, the holidays also present a minefield of potential triggers. This holiday season, the usual spike in mental health symptoms may be exacerbated by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
At American Humane, we are happy that three veterans were able to take home service dogs through our Pups4PatriotsTM program just in time for the holidays. The Pups4Patriots™ program provides specially trained service dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury. Once trained, service dogs can help mitigate symptoms associated with trauma.
Thomas, a U.S. Air Force veteran deployed to Iraq and Kosovo. His new service dog is Koda, a three-year-old Border Collie. Thomas applied to the program “to have something that would pull me out further into the world.” And already, having Koda by his side has helped immensly
Tony, U.S. Army veteran, who served in both Korea and Germany, was paired with Duchess, a one-and-a-half-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer. According to Tony, having Duchess “integrated in my life and my family’s life will help me maintain calmness and go places and feel comfortable.”
Justin, a U.S. Navy, Army, and National Guard veteran who deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and the Persian Gulf, was paired with Chica, a one-and-a-half-year-old Black Lab. Going home with Chica, Justin is “excited and interested” to see where his life goes. He knows that Chica brings “a lot of focus and a lot of opportunity.”
While service dogs are an invaluable asset to veterans with trauma, there are significant obstacles to receiving one. Properly training a dog is expensive – costing up to $30,000 per dog. When cost is not an obstacle, wait times can still be prohibitively long.
American Humane is committed to leveraging the healing, transformative power of the human-animal bond and changing lives on both ends of the leash. Throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic, our Pups4PatriotsTM program has continued training dogs safely by using outdoor areas, masks, social distancing and frequent disinfecting.
To learn more about this lifesaving program, and support veterans in need, visit www.americanhumane.org/program/military.