Benefits of Service Dogs for Veterans

At Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, 80% to 90% of our dogs are paired with veterans. We see an array of disabilities within our veteran community, with the most prominent disability being PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a debilitating chemical imbalance that often affects veterans who have experienced trauma during their time in service. It can manifest in many ways, including flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and depression. For those living with PTSD, it can feel like there is no escape from the constant fear and stress.

In many cases, PTSD could be combined with a Traumatic Brain Injury, diabetes, or seizures. Mobility issues are another common disability we see in our veterans due to injuries they experienced during the time they served. Some may have back pain, limited mobility, or severe mobility issues. For these veterans, service dogs can provide much-needed physical assistance and various tasks that can transform the life of a veteran.

Using scent samples, our dogs learn to alert to changes in blood chemistry, which allows them to alert to the changes that occur when PTSD-induced nightmares, hypervigilance, anger, or anxiety attacks are approaching. The same training can be applied to our dogs to recognize changes in blood sugar or seizures and alert the recipient ahead of time.

Additionally, depending on the need of the recipient, our dogs are trained to brace or help the person with their balance while walking or standing by wearing a special harness, help our recipients from a sitting or lying position, pick up dropped items, and many other tasks. When teaching the service dogs to aid the recipient in mobility tasks, they are custom trained to assist with the individual needs of the recipient. This may include opening and closing doors, turning on/off lights, retrieving dropped items, and providing physical support while walking or climbing stairs.

Our dogs are also taught to redirect their recipients. They are trained to pick up on the chemical imbalances that cause their recipient to experience anxiety, panic attacks, or other emotions and react accordingly. This can include nuzzling, licking, standing over, pawing, etc., which results in reminding them to take medication or use a relaxation technique that we teach when the dog alerts them.

In addition to these practical tasks, our service dogs also provide a sense of non-judgemental and unconditional love for their recipients. Many individuals with PTSD may struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness, but having a highly trained service dog by their side can greatly improve their mental well-being.

Overall, our multifaceted approach to training service dogs for individuals with PTSD and other disabilities ensures that they are equipped with the skills and specific tasks needed to truly make a positive impact in their recipient’s life. Our dogs are dedicated and ready to assist those living with PTSD and other disabilities.

In addition, service dogs can help individuals with PTSD feel more confident when out in public or unfamiliar environments. They are trained to shield, which is a simple, non-aggressive task, where they put their body between an approaching stranger and
the recipient, providing a sense of safety thus preventing potential triggers. This allows individuals with PTSD to navigate through daily life with significantly less anxiety.

How Service Dogs Can Change and Save a Veteran’s Life

Twenty-two veterans die by suicide every day, with 39 suicide attempts each day as of 2023. These numbers continue to rise at an alarming rate. At Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, we believe it is critical for others to understand that veterans face high suicide rates. We are extremely proud that after 14 years and many, many people coming through our doors with suicide attempts and ideations, that due to our amazing dogs and their training, we have never had a suicide.

Additionally, the divorce rate in the US is approximately 47%. This goes up by an additional 90% when there is a disabled family member. After pairing hundreds of teams across the country, our divorce rate is less than 3%. Our service dogs for veterans and other individuals make a major impact on the quality and stability of their relationships. There are also secondary factors within families with veterans such as intergenerational PTSD. Children growing up in a home with a disabled parent who has PTSD can be impacted for the rest of their lives. By pairing the individual with a service dog, we can create a new and positive environment for the entire family, putting a stop to the damage of intergenerational PTSD.

Our service dogs can also help veterans dramatically reduce their number of medications. Many of them are on multiple medications to manage their conditions of anxiety, nightmares, etc. but with the help of a service dog under their doctor’s care they can often reduce or get off all medications. Our service dogs can accomplish things for our veterans that no piece of medical technology can do. Dogs have an incredible olfactory system that allows them to smell things that have yet to be replicated by any medical device. For example, a trained dog can detect a teaspoon of sugar in a body of water the size of two Olympic swimming pools.

They have abilities to detect and assist veterans that we cannot fathom, which is why Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs is dedicated to harnessing this gift and creating positive, life-changing pairings in the lives of our veterans.

Help Change a Veteran’s Life Today

If you are in need of a service dog, reach out to us for more information on our application process. Our team is here to support the lives of those impacted by visible and invisible disabilities. We understand the challenges and struggles that come with these conditions, and we are committed to finding the perfect match between a veteran and their service dog.

Whether you need support or want to show your support for our mission to change lives, you can visit our website to learn more. Don’t hesitate to contact Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs today with any questions.

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