Got PTSD? Veterans Administration Says No Service Dogs for You!

by Mary Haight on October 4, 2012

service dogs for PTSDDo you remember the 2009 scandal when the Veterans Administration was found to have been paying lip service to providing service dogs to  veterans with PTSD? Their website proclaimed vets were getting dogs as a matter of course, when actually in 8 years the VA provided only 2 dogs. As it turned out, the VA did not want to pay for service dogs out of the general fund, and Congress had not provided additional funds.  Five years later, the Veterans Administration says no service dogs to veterans with PTSD, even after successful results. This policy goes into effect, tomorrow, October 5.

I first heard that the VA would not be underwriting the cost for dogs to PTSD vets on twitter, and wondered how they would justify their actions. There are so many examples I could reel off – how many stories have you heard about service dogs getting veterans back on their feet or back to the personality families cherished? I remember one in particular.

Luis C Montalvan had to be discharged from duty in Iraq due to his injuries and PTSD. When he returned home, things went from bad to worse, his wife divorced him and he considered suicide. He finally received a service dog because of his injuries and it changed his life. Watch the video report by Matthew Rivera of the WSJ. In it, “psychiatric” service dogs are mentioned. It’s worth your time.

There are thousands of anecdotal stories, yet there are scant studies on the science of this program. According to part one of Steve Dale’s reports on the VA suspension of service dogs, the VA themselves were conducting a study mandated by Congress to follow the progress of PTSD vets and their dogs. They had brought 12 dogs and their veterans into the program, but then they abandoned the project. Steve has some really interesting background and interviews he did with the non-profits involved in providing dogs, as well as stories about veterans whose lives were saved or changed because of their service dog. I highly recommend it.

It looks like the VA is going to put the lives of those returning soldiers with PTSD, who have already sacrificed so much, in further jeopardy. The burden on wives, husbands, mothers and others is going to get heavier. It appears we only offer platitudes, not real support for the troops, yet I’m hoping Congress steps in to stop this folly. Why would the VA stop a program that has been working, especially when troops are coming home in need?

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11 comments
voice_compass
voice_compass

I think that any treatment - which is available - should be used to help a veteran

IndyAgent
IndyAgent

How terribly sad! Service animals have proven to have a positive effect on the lives of those they serve. Who better to help than our servicemen and women, who have given us much more than we could ever properly thank them for.

WayneHurlbert
WayneHurlbert

Dogs, and other animals including horses, are proven to be effective with PTSD individuals. To end this fantastic and important program is a step backward. Veterans served their country. Those who return with PTSD deserve respect and the assistance of service dogs.

haroldgardner
haroldgardner

Sometimes I just don't understand the bureaucratic mind.  I bet providing a service animal would actually reduce the cost of care over the long run.  

mithuhassan
mithuhassan

Thanks to share a interesting article !

nikkidee
nikkidee

How horrible. Dogs have been proven to be therapeutic in numerous situations. Veterans living with PTSD face so many judgements and misunderstandings. It stands to reason that since dogs do not judge and love unconditionally they would make not only a great companion but potential therapeutic remedy for our veterans. It's a shame.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

 @IndyAgent It is sad! We never do seem to follow through with all the promises we make to the volunteers putting themselves in harms way... Thanks for stopping by Paula!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

 @haroldgardner Yes, that is true....many vets have found they take less medication when they have a dog... an important benefit! Thanks for stopping by Harold!

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

 @mithuhassan Soldiers should get the treatment and assistance they need - glad you found it of interest Mithu;)

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

 @nikkidee Yes, what a creepy, twisted thing to do our veterans. It seems it doesn't matter who is President or who's in power in Congress. Veterans routinely get shafted. It is a National disgrace we don't talk about often enough.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] dogs have been sentenced. Since the Veteran’s Administration quit funding service dogs in October 2012, the numbers of veterans in need of specially-trained dogs have multiplied. This [...]

  2. [...] Dogs for Veterans is a topic close to many hearts, and when the VA shut down the program to provide dogs to Veterans with PTSD , that burden shifted to veterans and their families. At around $25,000 per dog, the expense can be [...]

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