Dogs of War

IMG_2511I received an email from Julie Bowen who is involved with an organization in which I strongly believe. I have mentioned before that I support the Wounded Warriors Project but have never mentioned another group that I am happy to support, which is the Dogs of War. Here is a quote from the Dogs of War site:

 On Veterans Day, A&E launched Dogs of War, a new docuseries that shines a much-needed light on the record number of military vets struggling with emotional complications brought back from the battlefield. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addiction are two of the biggest issues veterans face once home. PTSD brings on feelings of intense anxiety, intrusive memories and horrifying flashbacks. In a desperate attempt to numb that pain, many turn to drugs or alcohol.The result is a vicious cycle of substance abuse and mental strain. At its core, Dogs of War is about men and women who bravely fought for our country – men and women who are wounded and desperate to heal. And we, the lucky viewers, are given a unique glimpse into the lives of these vets as they experience amazing and curative effects brought on not by numbing pharmaceuticals or alcohol, but by building a bond with service dogs.”

This is a departure for me, posting material from anyone else, but as I said I strongly believe in this project and ask that you take the time to read and think about it!

I will be back to my old sagacious (my tongue is definitely in my cheek) self tomorrow !

 

Helping Our Veterans with Canine Companionship

One of the most tragic facts about the men and women who serve our country in active combat is that many of them return home with physical and psychological disabilities. Life on the battlefield is unimaginable for the rest of us, and for veterans, it’s an experience that leaves them struggling to return to normal civilian life. Many develop psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can lead to further problems like substance abuse and homelessness. The documentary series Dogs of War, which debuted on Veteran’s Day 2014 on A&E, was created to shed some light on this problem, and on one special way in which a new kind of charity is helping repair the shattered lives of our veterans.

Paws and Stripes

Paws and Stripes was created by Jim and Lindsey Stanek after Jim Stanek returned home from overseas deployment. Jim had suffered a traumatic brain injury while on duty, and returned home coping not only with this, but also with PTSD. The couple searched for effective therapy options for Jim, and discovered the benefits of service dogs. As a result, they founded Paws and Stripes, an organization that rescues dogs from local shelters, and trains them to perform service dog duties for veterans with disabilities. The TV show Dogs of War is all about Jim and Lindsey’s journey, and the amazing things that the Paws and Stripes organization has done to help veterans in need.

How Service Dogs Help Veterans Recover

Jim and Lindsey Stanek found themselves coping with a wide range of problems: Jim suffered from memory loss and other issues as a result of a brain injury, and his PTSD meant that everyday activities like shopping trips became extremely difficult. It’s a problem that many veterans suffer from: when someone has PTSD, even mundane things like smells, sounds, and normal everyday objects can trigger flashbacks, mood swings, and panic attacks, and everyday life is hard to navigate.

Having once worked at a vet clinic, Lindsey Stanek was in the habit of rescuing dogs who needed help, and Jim had been in contact with therapy dogs while in Brook Army Medical Center in Texas. Remembering the calming effects of those therapy dogs prompted Lindsey to look into the idea of a service dog for Jim. The high cost of obtaining a service dog meant the Staneks had to get creative. They hired a dog trainer to help them train their own dog for Jim, and that’s when they realized that they could do the same thing to help other veterans. In the Paws and Stripes program, each rescued shelter dog is matched to a veteran, and the pair spend up to nine months training together as a team. The dogs are trained to help their new owners with their own specific problems—like flashbacks, anxiety, and other issues—and on graduation day, each new team is ready for a new life.

Read more about Paws and Stripes, and the Dogs of War TV show: Recovery.org

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