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Dr. Bergin (left) was honored last week for her work in support of female Veterans at The Honoring Of All Military Women event at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville.

 

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“A lot of Veterans with PTSD tend to isolate. They don’t engage. They build a defensive wall around themselves so they can feel safe. But dogs have an ability to shatter that wall. They’re friendly and non-judgmental. They invite interaction.” — Sandra Carson of Paws for Purple Hearts

by Tom Cramer, VA Staff Writer
Thursday, February 13, 2014

Henry Wheeler Shaw, a 19th Century American humorist, once made the following observation: “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”The good folks at the Palo Alto VA’s Menlo Park campus seem to agree, because for the last five years they’ve been using dogs to help Veterans overcome symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

– See more at: http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/2014/February/Dogs-Helping-Veterans-Cope-with-PTSD.asp#sthash.vwjLBx9X.dpuf

MENLO PARK — The black Labrador retriever knew something was wrong. He refused to leave the side of Sandro Navarro, repeatedly nuzzling the troubled man, trying to comfort him.

It was the anniversary of that terrible 2003 day in Iraq when Navarro was the first to arrive at a blast scene that killed two friends in his Army unit and severely wounded a third. Somehow, the dog named Jason realized he was distraught.

“It was like he was telling me, ‘I’m going to keep licking your face until you stop feeling down, and I going to make you smile by doing something goofy,’ ” said Navarro, 36.

Some of man’s best friends are playing an innovative role in the VA Palo Alto Men’s Trauma Recovery Program as four-legged therapy for veterans finding their way through the darkness of post-traumatic stress disorder, thanks to Paws for Purple Hearts. The dogs are so perceptive they even will awaken vets from nightmares.

But there’s also a dual purpose to the program. Some of the veterans who come to the VA’s Menlo Park campus from around the country for military-related PTSD treatment are helping train the canines to become service dogs for physically disabled vets.

READ MORE HERE