Guardian Revival's Boots & Paws Program provides veterans in need with working dogs. Dogs are awarded along with a care package, which includes professional training sessions, veterinary coverage and food for up to a year, toys, leashes, and other essential care equipment.
Mental illness is disproportionately high among American veterans. Every day, 22 veterans commit suicide; some believe that number may be higher. Some of the most common conditions include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and alcohol abuse. Psychiatric disorders after traumatic brain injury (TBI) are also frequent.
Researchers are accumulating evidence that bonding with dogs has biological effects, such as elevated levels of oxytocin and serotonin. Oxytocin decreases paranoia and also improves the ability to trust and read facial expressions; this may negate some symptoms of these debilitating conditions. A positive social network is important for veterans in order to have a more seamless transition back into society. While support from friends and family may provide similar benefits, stressful interpersonal relationships may be detrimental. Studies have shown that animal ownership can make an individual feel more relaxed with decreased stress. It’s also the case that social support provided by a dog can encourage more social interactions with people, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. Unlike many medications there are no side effects from having a working dog, and the loving bond created between veteran and dog will last forever.
If you are a veteran in need of a dog, or if you would like to sponsor a dog for a veteran in need, click here.