A New Partnership Between the Humane Society and VA
Posted in Uncategorized on February 13, 2018
It’s no secret that dogs are a man’s best friend. The VA is taking that old adage to heart in announcing a new partnership with the Humane Society of the United States. The new partnership between the Humane Society and VA is meant to encourage pet ownership and expand volunteer opportunities for veterans.
Learn more about the partnership and how dogs are helping our nation’s heroes cope with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
The VA Encourages Pet Ownership and Volunteer Opportunities
A new partnership between the Humane Society and VA was recently announced in an effort to encourage veterans to own pets and volunteer with local chapters of the Humane Society.
Dr. David J. Shulkin, VA Secretary, says of the partnership, “There are many benefits to pet ownership both for Veterans in need of companionship and for animals in need of good homes. The greatest benefit for both can be a more fulfilled quality of life. We are pleased to work with the Humane Society on this important initiative and excited about its potential to create more opportunities to serve.”
CEO and President of the HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, is encouraged by the partnership, saying, “The partnership between animal welfare groups and VA is an important program for our Veterans and for homeless animals. We know the power of the human-animal bond, and I can’t think of a better way to see it expressed than in helping our nation’s heroes.”
The partnership is representative of the VA’s commitment to partner with community nonprofits and identify innovative ways to support veterans. The two organizations will be building model programs and establishing connections with local VA facilities to make it easier for Veterans to adopt animals.
The Benefits of Dogs for Veterans
More than just a furry companion, dogs have the ability to improve the lives of their owners and provide support for veterans coping with a number of conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
An estimated 20% of Veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have PTSD and/or depression. Service dogs are able to help Veterans with PTSD-related symptoms like anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares.
Veterans with service dogs have reported:
- A reduction in medical and psychiatric costs
- A reduction in suicidal thoughts
- Less serious mental breakdowns
- Lower risk of alcoholism, depression and drug use
Additionally, service dogs have been shown to alert their human to oncoming migraines, seizures and even debilitating shifts in mood before their owner even knows it’s coming.
In August of 2016, the VA announced that they would be providing mobility service dogs for Veterans with mental health disorders. For a Veteran to receive a service dog they must be evaluated by a prescribing clinician for their ability to care for the dog, the goals to be reached through the use of the dog and other goals to be accomplished through other means. Each case is reviewed on a case by case basis.
If approved, there is no charge for the dog or any training for the dog.
Are you a veteran who has seen the benefits of a service dog? How do you feel about the new partnership between the humane society and VA? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.