Man’s Best Cure for PTSD

Pets have been best friends oh human kind for thousands of years. They have been our companions, confidants, and assistants. Animals have helped us in a wide variety of ways. One example of this that I have looked at in quite a state of wonder is, how one special companion has been of tremendous use in assisting my Brother. My Brother is an Iraq war veteran. He came back from the war pretty shook up and was shortly afterwards diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since his return he has had his ups and downs. Some days he is good but then an unexpected sight or sound could trigger him and cause him to flash back to his time in Iraq.

I remember being around in him a couple of years ago on Independence Day, this is of course, a time when people in the United States celebrate their struggle for independence from Great Britain, and on this holiday Americans shoot fireworks into the air. Typical, normal festivity, but my brother was still recovering from all the loud sound he had to hear in Iraq. And when that first firework went off, in an instant he was on automatic, and immediately ducked down on the ground and started yelling at the rest of us, “get down! “get down!” He snapped out of it pretty quick and was immediately embarrassed and he was just as surprised it had happened as the rest of us.

He was having some trouble adjusting after he came back, with feelings he left in the war resurfacing like this. Then shortly after this happened he surprised all of us and got a dog. This was surprising because he had never expressed much of an interest in pets. But soon we saw him with this dog almost all of the time. He would drive up in his truck and there in the passenger seat was his dog Hazy. Then one day, I asked him what made him get Hazy, and he told me that he talked to a counselor at the VA and they told him how beneficial a dog could be to a veteran.

Apparently dogs were being used to help veterans cope with PTSD, these dogs were very good at sensing anxiety and knew how to approach the veteran at just the right time to console and calm him down enough to avoid having a problem. As my Brother told me, “When I start drifting off, having flashback type moments, Hazy is right on it, she comes right up and snaps me out of it!” “I don’t know what I would do now without Haze!” And he has had her around ever since with remarkable improvement of his PTSD symptoms.

This is precisely why the VA has undertaken this program with the dogs to help treat PTSD. They already have a proven track record of benefit, so much so that veterans with the diagnosis of PTSD are allowed to bring their assisting dogs with them into public establishments such as restaurants. They are now considered worker dogs just like Seeing Eye dogs for the blind. So it is law now that these aiding animals be allowed to help veterans like my brother wherever they go, and I think that is an excellent piece of legislation.