Dog Therapy and Treating PTSD for Veterans

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As most Veterans are aware, “the VA does not provide service dogs for physical or mental health conditions, including PTSD.” While acknowledging that dogs can be useful in treating the symptoms and conditions of PTSD, they have concluded that there is not sufficient clinical research to justify the use of service dogs.

Specifically, the VA says the following about the use of service dogs in treating PTSD:

Clinically, there is not enough research yet to know if dogs actually help treat PTSD and its symptoms. Evidence-based therapies and medications for PTSD are supported by research. We encourage you to learn more about these treatments because it is difficult to draw strong conclusions from the few studies on dogs and PTSD that have been done.

Research is underway to better understand if dogs can provide a disability service for persons with PTSD. VA has started a research study to determine if there are things a dog can do for a Veteran with PTSD that would qualify the animal as a Service Dog for PTSD. The study is expected to take several years to complete. The National Center for PTSD is not involved in this study, but we will provide results when they become available.

Currently, VA does not provide service dogs for physical or mental health conditions, including PTSD. VA does provide veterinary care for service dogs that are deemed medically necessary for the rehabilitation or restorative care plan of Veterans with permanent physical impairments. If research supports the use of service dogs for PTSD, VA will provide veterinary care for such dogs. Read more information on VA and service dogs.

While the VA’s position is quite clear, many grass-roots organizations have emerged to provide Veterans with service dogs to help these brave young men and women cope with the everyday difficulties of PTSD.  Found below is just one of the many video stories of Veterans with service dogs:

While many can find merit of the position of the VA for refusing canine therapy until clinical results have been evaluated, hundreds of Veterans are finding relief from the daily traumas of PTSD with the help of specially trained dogs.

Dog Therapy for Veterans – TADSAW

Train a Dog – Save a Warrior is a program that has been vetted and supported by SFTT. Train a Dog – Save a Warrior (or “TADSAW”) provides for the training of a Medical Alert Service Dog, as designated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 2010 guidelines, for ANY wounded warrior, Active Duty or Veteran, surviving with PTSD, MST and/or TBI, in order to restore and improve the warrior’s Quality of Life with a canine “Battle Buddy”, at no charge to the warrior.

Demand for this independently funding program is quite high, so if you are a Veteran seeking information on this PTSD therapy program please contact SFTT for more information.

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