Veterans suffering from PTSD have a lot facing them as they return home from combat. Reconnecting with family and becoming a member of the civilian world can be a very difficult task, and can take up to years to accomplish for many vets. Fortunately for those returning home from active duty, there are many avenues to help them cope with the stress and trauma they continue to relive. One of the more popular ways today is training service dogs to aid these vets with both physical actions, as well as being present for emotional support as well.
Unfortunately for many vets coming home, the reconnection with family and friends and relearning important social cues can be a tough job, with cases varying in severity. Some vets have taken years and years to be able to hug their kids again or be able to reconnect with their spouse as the trauma they endured is simply too much to handle. Over the past several years however, dog training programs have been able to help these vets reconnect with society and show their true personalities once again. Several programs have been in the works and implemented over the past few years, such as the Palo Alto V.A. Medical Center in California.
The center in Palo Alto worked specifically with labradors and golden retrievers. The science behind the connections between the vets and the dogs in use is quite fascinating, as the service dogs release a strong hormone in the vets that helps with emotional connection and trust. When the vets connect with the dogs, it releases the specific hormone of oxytocin, which is connected with raising levels of trust, and can even aid in getting past the paranoia that can haunt these men and women on a daily basis, while also improving their social and emotional skills in the process.
There are also many other studies beginning to go into the works this year both in the northwest and midwest areas of the United States. Using labradors as the service dogs as well, these animals will be learning how to do things such as sweep rooms, help protect the veterans from the front and back, perform functions such as turning on lights, and being able to bring something that the veteran needs in another room.
With so many veterans suffering from PTSD these days, more and more programs like the service dog ones should begin to pop up more and more. With progression in these programs, we can get many veterans back in society sooner and in better shape.