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. Through our Pups4Patriots™ program, American Humane harnesses the healing power of the human-animal bond to help veterans in need, and today, we are thrilled to congratulate two more graduates from the program!
Zachary, who served for 22 years in the U.S. Air Force, is paired with “Winnie,” a 1.5-year-old, female Labrador Retriever. Zachary avoided going to malls and other crowded places because of the accompanying feelings of anxiety he faced. Now, on his relationship with Winnie, he says, “the bond is pretty unbreakable at this point and it’s opened up literally a whole new world: trips to Disney, trips to parks, trips to the mall… it’s stuff that I would have never done before. There’s a reason that I’m here and I hope that other veterans take advantage of this because it’s lifesaving – it really is.”
DJ is a U.S. Air Force veteran who spent nine years working with Security Forces. His new service dog is “Gabe,” a 2-year-old, male Border Collie. With Gabe by his side, DJ feels much more comfortable in public – he can re-direct his focus to Gabe instead of the people around him. According to DJ, “he knows when to get into your business and let you know that everything is going to be alright … (Gabe says) pet me and stop worrying about the world.”
Congratulations to both Zachary and Winnie, and DJ and Gabe!
Research shows that specially trained PTS service dogs can reduce stress and anxiety levels, mitigate depression, ease social reintegration, provide comfort and restore confidence in affected veterans. Unfortunately, there are many obstacles standing in the way of veterans in need of service dogs, including long waiting lists and exorbitant costs. We are honored to play a part in helping our nation’s veterans through the power of the human-animal bond.
You too can make a difference. It’s your critical support that allows us to continue trainings service dogs, helping veterans begin their journey of healing. Donate today at www.americanhumane.org/donate.