Let us tell you about Steve who had returned from the war. While he was there, he befriended a couple of kids. At some point, he saw those two kids hanging from a tree – because the kids had befriended the Americans. When he was released from duty, Steve came home to his wife and child. After his second child was born, all of that vision came back and just hit him. Steve started drinking and getting into trouble. He and his wife divorced, he spent some time in jail, and his life was destroyed. It’s not uncommon for veterans with PTSD.
Steve got involved with PPH and it was the beginning of recovery. He started to warm up to the dogs because it’s impossible NOT to warm up to them. He started to get back into life – the isolation and the emotional numbness started to subside. Working and caring for the dogs turned his life around; it took him off illicit drugs, prescription drugs and he started to feel positive about things. His depression lifted and his sense of purpose came back.
I wanted to work with service dogs for a long time. My social worker and psychiatrist both encouraged me to work with animals. There were no programs available to me until PPH came to Fairbanks. I enjoy working with the dogs. There has been times when my PTSD and TBI has affected me to where I did not want to go to dog training on Friday. I had to force myself to go. After working with the dogs – just that one hour – my whole day changed for the better. It is amazing what working with the dogs can do to one’s attitude and emotional state. My favorite part is just being able to learn how to train service dogs for other veterans. I highly encourage this program to other Veterans. I am looking forward to PPH getting a facility so that I can be more involved in the program and help other Veterans.
Retired military, diagnosed with PTSD and TBI.
The program helps not only the Veteran who receives the dog as theirs, but it also helps our healing process while we train them.
One of my treatment goals was to get better sleep. Having Lief let me feel safe, and I started sleeping better. She actually woke me from a nightmare, too... My anxiety level went down. I was not so hypervigilant when I had her.
Webb was so much help to me while I was recovering in the VA Menlo Park.... When both King and Webb came to visit, I was in heaven as I have two Bernese Mountain dogs that I hadn't seen in weeks.
Ethan, a PPH dog, showed me there is love and happiness, outside of grief and despair.
PPH was the best therapy for my husband and it brought him closer to me and our daughter
There's only one work for my PPH dog Ollie: Priceless!
Our PPH facility dog's impact has been substantial. The fact of the matter is that he boosts moral for the employees, keeps us sane, and the clients love working with him.
“Learning to be more patient and understanding. How dogs think helps me improve on trying to understand others.”
“Working with the dogs gives me piece of mind and helps me control my anxiety issues so I can lead a more productive life.”
“When I was working with Paul (dog), I stayed calm and was less irritable and more focused and open to treatment at Menlo Park VA.”
“The training helps me lower my stress level and blood pressure. The comfort I get from the dogs far out weighs the thoughts of suicide. Not one negative thought has entered by mind since I started training with the dogs.”
“The comfort of the service dogs distracts from negative thoughts.”
“The dog Leif helped me with my self-esteem. People noticed a difference in when I had her and I’m grateful to Sandra for letting me be a part of this training.”
“I looked at this program as a privilege and honor to be a small part of a dog’s life and knowing I was helping a fellow Vet.”
“The program gave me a sense of responsibility and helped me lower my isolation.”
“The Paws for Purple Hearts program gave me a renewed sense of purpose. I was “giving back” and helping another Vet who was not expecting anything in return. It helped me with anger, self-esteem and survival guilt.”
“Many of our Veterans report that the dogs help them ‘get out of their own head’ and be more present.”
“These dogs can really sense your mood. They know when you’re having a bad day. They give you companionship without judgment. Ibarra (dog) doesn’t need to know why I have the symptoms I have. He just wants to be with me.”
What brought you to the PPH service dog training program?
I referred my husband to the PPH program after getting to talk to Betsey Jacobs about the program. I felt like it would be a good fit for my husband who experiences PTSD and is often looking for positive ways to give back to his community. I was hopeful he would find a community he felt a part of and could share stories and experiences with other veterans while doing something productive.
How can/does training service dogs with PPH benefit Veterans and Service Members with PTSD or TBI?
My husband has made friends and reports feeling supported in a way he has not experienced before. He loves the animals and feels like he is doing something to help others…he has a purpose.
What is your favorite part of participating in PPH service dog training program?
My husband is eager and wants to go every week. It is exciting to see something positive emerge from having a diagnosis of PTSD. He can give back to other veterans also which is important to him. Betsey and Nathan are so good at creating a comfortable environment.
Would you recommend this program?
Why? Absolutely!!! I believe every person wants to feel a part of something and these dogs are providing that opportunity. It is not often you can talk about PTSD without their being negative feelings attached. This group allows the members to show that they can be active members in the community providing a needed service to others while at the same time benefiting from the therapeutic benefits of working with dogs and each other.
What can we do to make this program better?
Keep it moving forward. It would be great for PPH to have permanent home of their own where more opportunities for veterans to train together and therefor continue to build a sense of community would be great. Our community has such a strong military presence (active, retired, veterans) and PPH is helping heal the spirit of those who experience PTSD. WE need to make that a possibility for all who experience PTSD. PPH is helping reduce the stigma and creating community!
You got me @ paws. Seriously. Being an Iraq war veteran, I understand firsthand how much it means to a Vet, my dog Jasmine especially, after the fact! Jasmine helped me transition back to civilian (reality) life in a way no other human could help. I gladly donate $5,000 to Paws for Purple Hearts.
That’s because it works, hands down!
Adam N. Moskovitz
Your generous, tax-deductible donation to Paws for Purple Hearts will improve the lives of thousands of warriors facing the visible and invisible wounds of warfare and service. You will be restoring their independence and allowing these warriors to reintegrate into society in the nation they so bravely volunteered to defend.