Military veterans returning from active duty are coming home from one of the most demanding, stressful and emotionally taxing jobs there is. They may be wounded or carry emotional scars that require time and special care to heal. Many pet charities recognize this need and pair their love of animals with reverence for veterans in programs that bring the two together in positive ways.
Benefits for Veterans
Veterans who are paired with pets through the help of charities benefit in many ways:
- The company of a pet helps ease the transition from active duty to civilian life
- Owning a pet has been shown to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental difficulties
- Animals “bridge the gap” between people, allowing veterans to make human connections more easily
- Pets provide unconditional friendship and love
- Dogs, cats and other animals are fun to have around and make life more enjoyable
Charities such as Soldier’s Best Friend and Always Faithful Dogs provide service dogs to veterans with both physical and emotional disabilities. Some choose dogs from shelters or rescue abandoned animals, giving them a chance to go through training and help out a human in need. Others breed and train their own dogs with rigorous programs. Veterans are matched with a companion animal that has already been trained or choose their own and go through the training process with them. Both methods provide highly skilled service animals that can help disabled veterans live fuller, more independent lives.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common ailments that returning veterans struggle with. Symptoms such as anxiety attacks and depression can be debilitating and leave sufferers afraid to interact with others. Companion animals give these individuals another living being to care for and that loves them in return. Pets for Vets, Alpha K-9 and Circle of Change are just a few of the charities that bring emotional stability back to struggling veterans by pairing them up with pets. It’s also possible for veterans with PTSD to qualify for a psychiatric service animal that is specially trained to help when the symptoms of the disorder become overwhelming.
Pets for Patriots and Dogs 2 Vets are charities that work to help returning service members adopt pets. This benefits both the animals and the veterans by rescuing pets from shelters and giving people loving companions. For those who live alone or struggle with loneliness, a pet offers good company as well as cheer. Others may simply love animals and enjoy having one around as they get used to their daily routines again.
Whether specially trained or just there for support, the animals that pet charities provide to veterans become an integral part of their lives. These lifelong furry companions offer emotional support and physical help beyond what can be given by other people.