By Peter S. Gaytan
Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Inc. have partnered with medical personnel from the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital of Tampa, Florida for a multi-year study to examine the impact that a service dogs can have on veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Service dogs, such as seeing-eye dogs, have long been paired with physically-disabled individuals to restore independence. Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs is a nonprofit organization that trains highly-skilled medical service dogs to assist mentally- and physically-disabled individuals with everyday tasks.
The study is to examine whether those suffering from PTSD can also benefit from having a service dog. It will determine at what level service dogs mitigate issues that PTSD vets face on a daily basis. Up to 200 qualified vets, currently in treatment for PTSD, will be paired with a dog custom-trained to assist with each vet’s individual challenges. The veteran assumes responsibility for the dog’s daily care.
In an article in New England Cable News, Vietnam veteran Ray Galmiche, who has suffered from PTSD for decades, describes the life-changing difference having Dazzle, an 81-pound German shepherd service dog, has made. “I’m so focused on him — on Dazzle — that I’m not having as many problems as I was before,” Ray said. The nightmares he used to experience aren’t gone, but Dazzle wakes him before they get too far. Ray still gets nervous around large crowds, but Dazzle will stand between him and other people so he no longer stays in the house alone all the time. He and his wife venture out willingly and happily for the first time in years.
For more information on Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, go to: http://medicalservicedogs.com
To read the complete article on Ray Galmiche, go to: http://www.necn.com/01/02/12/German-shepherd-helps-Army-vet-battle-wi/landing_politics.html?&apID=35fabdf33675400f9f2d64dc17beddaf
Peter S. Gaytan is the author of For Service To Your Country – Updated Edition: The Essential Guide to Getting the Veterans’ Benefits You’ve Earned (Citadel, 2011), available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers. He has served as an advocate in securing and protecting the earned benefits of America’s veterans for more than a decade. Gaytan is the Executive Director of the American Legion, the largest
veterans service organization in America.
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