Thanksgiving has arrived, a special day in which all Americans gather to give thanks. And this holiday season, many veterans will be thankful to have a new lifesaving service dog by their side. In the past year, American Humane helped provide another dozen U.S. veterans struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress or Traumatic Brain Injury with free, highly trained service dogs through our Pups4Patriots™ program. For the first time ever, these veteran and service dog pairs will be together for the holidays.
For many of our nation’s brave veterans, coming home is only the beginning of another daunting battle. The invisible wounds of war, including PTS and TBI, 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. However, there are many obstacles standing in the way of veterans in need of service dogs including long waiting lists and exorbitant costs.
To help, American Humane’s Pups4Patriots program finds dogs in search of forever homes and trains them to be lifesaving service dogs for veterans with PTS or TBI, at no cost to the veteran. We also oversee intensive hands-on training sessions to cultivate the important connection between the veteran and his or her new service dog.
Our most recent Pups4Patriots graduate was U.S. Marine Corps veteran Mark. Mark lives in California and was paired with Chesty, a Labrador Retriever. Upon graduating, Mark said, “I feel my life is back on track! After years of struggling to integrate into society and dealing with isolation, it seemed nothing helped. Now, because of Chesty, I have a reason to go out every day. He has improved my life dramatically and I have enthusiasm and optimism about the future. I am so grateful and appreciative.”
Service dogs like Chesty can make a world of difference for veterans, helping to alleviate symptoms associated with trauma and empower veterans to live healthy, happy lives. At American Humane, we are honored to support the brave men and women who serve our county, and we are committed to putting more healing leashes into the hands of veterans who need them.
Mark and Chesty, along with many other veteran and service dog pairs, are together for the holidays and will celebrate this season with a newfound love in their hearts. They have found their better half.
Our program is made possible through the generous support of donors, and this Thanksgiving, we thank YOU for making our efforts possible.