Reducing the symptoms of PTSD through Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy®
Over the past 10 years, multiple scientific studies and countless hours of research have been dedicated to determining whether the presence of our loyal canine companions can help change our moods. While it may be common knowledge to the majority of dog owners that our days are always brightened by our furry friends and their slobbery tongues, many people don’t realize the realm of possibilities that opens for our Veterans suffering from trauma related conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Paws for Purple Hearts’ mission is to help these warriors regain a sense of normalcy and purpose after military service. Their drive to help their comrades never faltered after their discharge from the military or their injury. Through Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy®, countless brave veterans are given a second chance at life and happiness.
Where can I participate in this type of therapy?
Here in San Antonio, service-dogs-in-training Rusty, Lucy, Kyree, Noah and Libby enjoy every moment they can get with their warrior training buddies. Taking trips to the Austin VA Outpatient Clinic, Audie Murphy Memorial VA Hospital and Brooke Army Medical Center (Center for the intrepid) is the highlight of their week. Even after a long session of training, these motivated pooches show their desire to help wounded warriors by specifically seeking out participants who may be secluding themselves from the class. The dogs pick up on this and they just sit or lie quietly next to their feet and allow the recovering warrior to feel whatever they are feeling and offer themselves in support in a way other people can’t. One phrase that we have heard over and over is, “Dogs can connect with people in a way that people often can’t.”
What happens when therapy is over?
Many times, warriors don’t get their fill of our service-dogs-in-training during Canine-Assisted Therapy and they can’t resist squeezing in a few more visits with them during the week. Having our veteran and active duty service member friends come to our facility to volunteer is something that all the Paws for Purple Hearts team members enjoy, especially the dogs. There are many volunteer opportunities here at Paws for Purple Hearts, but one of the most rewarding ways to volunteer is by being puppy parents.
When one signs up to be a puppy parent, they are able to take one of our service-dogs-in-training home with them for the evening or weekend to help socialize them, give them a change of environment, and help reinforce our training. Our program instructors work tirelessly with the puppy parents to help give training advice and support through the trials and tribulations of puppyhood.
How can I support?
Service dogs help veterans by reducing symptoms of PTSD through their support and unconditional love. It is so very important to support charities that help Veterans and you can show your support by donating to our cause or learning more about the services we provide as well as volunteer opportunities and spreading the word about the work we do.
To see what events and activities are going on at the San Antonio location, check out our Facebook and Instagram pages or surf our national website for the latest updates regarding our other locations and the service-dogs-in-training there. If you would like to read more about one of the studies done involving Paws for Purple Hearts that explore how the presence of canines impacts the reduction of PTSD symptoms, click here.