It is estimated that more than half a million US war veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (source : RAND Corp and other studies)
- 22 Veterans of the US Military will take their own lives today.
- 22 families will lose loved ones today and every day due to combat-related stresses and injuries.
At a presentation at Global Pet Expo sponsored by K9 Advantix 11, we had the privilege of talking with Brett Simon, the Director of K9 Operations for K9s for Warriors about his own battle with PTSD and what he is doing to change these statistics.
Brett served in Iraq as a dog handler for the Department of Defence. Upon his return, he and his family noticed symptoms of severe PTSD. Together, they fused their love for dogs and helping veterans to start K9s for Warriors.
Battle PTSD, Trauma and Brain Injury
The non-profit group helps veterans with PTSD, sexual trauma and/or traumatic brain injury as a result of military service return to regular life using trained rescue or shelter dogs. Their goal is to give a new leash on life to rescue dogs and military heroes alike, helping empower them to live with dignity and independence. See their YouTube Channel for more wonderful success stories.
To date they have placed over 159 dogs and counting with military members. As we learned filming our documentary series on Dogs Making a Difference, the presence of dogs has been shown to reduce symptoms of PTSD such as high blood pressure, anxiety and stress.
The program matches dogs to veterans based on their individual needs such as space control, where the dog learns to create a barrier between the veteran and others, and specially trained dogs for those with more physical or mobility limitations. The dogs not only provide love and companionship for the vets, but also gives them a sense of purpose, responsibility and routine.
These service animals change lives.
“These service animals change lives. He gives me the confidence to know that I’m not alone anymore” says Joe Swoboda, Sergeant First Class U.S Army (Ret.) who served three times in Iraq.
Joe was diagnosed with PTSD and traumatic brain injury as a result of his service in the army. Upon returning home, Joe felt he was at his lowest point and could no longer fit into society, and even considered taking his own life. That’s when he found K9s for Warriors and got a second chance. Since being matched with a service dog, Joe feels eager to return to normal life and that the symptoms of PTSD are helped by the presence of his dog. He now advocates at events like Global Pet Expo, which might have been an impossible challenge prior to working with K9s for Warriors.
Making this video and writing this post reminded me how much I am looking forward to the BlogPaws conference in a few weeks. I arrived at my first Global Pet Expo and did not really know anyone well. Some lovely friends from this Hop and BlogPaws made a space and welcomed me to their table at this press lunch. They made me feel as though I belonged. Thanks Pepper Pom, Sugar The Golden Retriever, Life with Beagle, Oz the Terrier, Two Little Cavaliers and Beagles and Bargains.
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