Every veteran has to make adjustments to their life when they leave military service. This is often easier said than done and there are plenty of veterans who find the transition extremely challenging.
Help for those who are struggling is available. Attending a veteran mental health treatment center can provide the support and guidance they need to be able to adjust and cope with their new life and the trauma they are carrying.
Another great source of comfort for veterans is the introduction of a service dog into their life. Taking care of a dog is a wonderful distraction and these special canine companions can help the healing process and improve mental health in the process.
Let’s look at how service dogs for veterans can deliver such a transformational outcome.
Healing invisible wounds
There is a greater awareness of PTSD than ever before. The mental trauma that some veterans suffer is so different from a physical scar or disability. You can’t see the pain and trauma someone is suffering on the inside but the damage they are feeling is just as real and debilitating.
Physiological changes in the brain of someone who has PTSD can be witnessed with the help of scans. It has also been shown that meaningful interaction with a trained service dog can have a positive impact on the brain, even though we cannot see it.
A fundamental point to remember about dogs is that they have a far better sense of smell and a greater level of perception than humans. That means they are able to detect when something is not right with someone as they can tune into changes in our body chemistry.
The importance of that ability should not be underestimated. A dog can react to these changes and respond in a positive way.
A way of communicating that helps veterans cope better
When a service dog senses changes in body chemistry they have been trained to respond in a certain way.
The dog will alert their companion that these changes are occurring even before they might realize it themselves. The simple act of nudging or pawing someone to distract them from their thoughts can mitigate stress in an instant.
It has been consistently demonstrated that dogs have the ability to reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety in veterans. When they interact with their handler it means they have switched the communication focus. Blocking negative and stressful thoughts with the simple act of drawing attention can be extremely effective in reducing PTSD symptoms.
The evidence is there in front of our eyes. When a veteran with PTSD starts to experience any cognitive, physical, or emotional issues a trained service dog has the ability to be alert to the situation and offer a solution that creates calm.
Service dogs for veterans really do change lives for the better. Our unique bond with dogs is being used in a positive way to reduce stress and improve the quality of many lives.
Treatment centers for veterans with PTSD already understand the benefits of service dogs and it is one of the many ways they can offer help and support to any veteran who is struggling with their trauma.