Healing Leashes for War Vets: Pups for Patriots Act – Service Dogs

 

“The new Pups for Patriots Act seeks to put more healing leashes into the hands of America’s veterans coping with the invisible wounds of war.”

 

 

I grew up with war vets. Guys from the Big One: WWII.

My Father, Uncles, Dad’s fellow workers — guys who had been on the beaches of Normandy, in Holland, the Rhineland, Italy — wherever they were needed. They were the nicest guys I’ve ever known and I didn’t really get a hint of what they’d actually been through until I was old enough to work side by side with some of them. They’d seen darker things that they rarely talked about, even Dad — until they had a few drinks in. [1]

But the one good thing that generation of old soldiers had going for them was they had each other. Hundreds of thousands of guys returned home from those foreign fields and they worked together, went to the thriving Legion together…

In the wars since — Korea, Viet Nam (yes, thousands of Canadians volunteered to serve in the American forces in that one), Afghanistan, Iraq, so many more — the numbers of veterans are fewer. I know some of these guys. Some are family. And they often seem to be on their own. In Canada, at least, they seem abandoned by the government that sent them over there.

Some of the best efforts to help are from support groups providing service dogs.

Especially from our neighbours to the south…

American Humane, that country’s first national humane organization, which has been working to support the U.S. military, veterans, and military animals for more than a century, is publicly praising the introduction of H.R. 3335, the “Pups for Patriots Act of 2017,” by Congressmen Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX). [2]

The bill “directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a pilot program to provide more highly trained lifesaving service dogs to the nation’s veterans struggling to cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and establishes the requirement to adhere to national standards on the selection, training, and assessment of the service dogs.”

American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert explained, “We thank Congressmen Bilirakis and Cuellar for working to serve those who serve our country by providing veterans with sufficient numbers of service dogs, rigorously trained using the first set of national standards developed by top experts from across the country. The Pups for Patriots Act will get more healing leashes into the hands of America’s veterans in greatest need.”

As co-founders and co-chairs of the Caucus for the Humane Bond, Congressmen Bilirakis and Cuellar are committed to promoting life-changing and life-saving interactions between humans and animals, in particular between veterans and service dogs.

Here’s the hard reality: Every day, 20 American veterans take their own lives. Vast anecdotal evidence and a growing body of scientific research show that specialized service dogs offer support to affected veterans in managing the symptoms of PTS and TBI.

However, there are obstacles standing in the way for veterans in need of service dogs. Waiting lists are unconscionably long at 18 to 24 months, and the training process is time-consuming and expensive, costing as much as $30,000 per dog.

“We must supply a greater number of better-trained service dogs more quickly to America’s veterans grappling with Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury,” said Dr. Ganzert. “The Pups for Patriots Act is a vital step forward in helping protect those who have given so much to protect us and our freedom.”

Congressman Cuellar adds,”Our veterans are some of the bravest men and women alive today. It’s our duty as Americans to provide these heroes with the support necessary to aid their adjustment back into everyday life. I thank Congressman Bilirakis for his support in helping to introduce this bill.”

“The benefits of service dog therapy can in some ways go beyond anything that comes in a pill bottle,” said Congressman Bilirakis.

“Our legislation would help support service dog therapy as an alternative treatment by connecting the VA to the many qualified nonprofits nationwide who train and provide service dogs. Many of us have known the unconditional love dogs bring to our lives. This bond can do wonders to help our nation’s heroes as they deal with their invisible wounds.”

It’s a great effort. Our American allies are doing more to support their vets and their families than we are up here. Looking to see the same kind of bill here in Canada. What about it, Justin?

Brian Alan Burhoe

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[1] To read more, see OUT OF MY FATHER’S SHAVING BOX: Dad’s War, Algonquin Regiment & Liberation of Holland

[2] American Humane is the country’s first national humane organization, founded in 1877. American Humane began working with the U.S. military more than 100 years ago when they deployed to the battlefields of World War I Europe to rescue more than 68,000 wounded war horses every month. Following World War II they advanced the field of animal-assisted therapy to help returning veterans cope with the invisible wounds of war, and aided children of military families during their parents’ deployments.

Recently, American Humane worked with lawmakers to strengthen U.S. law to ensure we bring our military working dogs home to U.S. soil when their service to our country is finished. They also work to reunite these four-footed warriors with their former handlers, and provide them with free specialized healthcare so they can enjoy the happy and healthy retirement they deserve. For more information, please visit www.AmericanHumane.org.

Healing Leashes for War Vets: Pups for Patriots Act – Service Dogs

Source: Civilized Bears, American Humane and PRNewswire

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About Brian Alan Burhoe

A Graduate of the Holland College Culinary Course, Brian Alan Burhoe has cooked in Atlantic Coast restaurants and institutional kitchens for over 30 years. He is a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation. Brian's articles reflect his interests in food service, Canadian history, imaginative literature, wildlife writing, animal rights, wilderness preservation and our best friends -- our dogs. See his CIVILIZED BEARS!
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