How a Companion Dog Benefits a Veteran with PTSD
Not all wounds are visible. 4.8 million veterans have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and 22 veterans commit suicide each day. At DVEN, our mission is to do everything we can to support disabled veterans and prevent veteran suicides.
Veterans and PTSD
When a veteran returns from deployment, the feelings of isolation and flashbacks from war can be very prevalent. A loud noise — such as the sound of a firework — can remind a veteran of vivid, terrifying memories of being on the battlefield. Rapid heart rate, heavy breathing, and a feeling of panic can be triggered by anything remotely similar to the sound or appearance of being on the battlefield.
While a veteran may seek to live a peaceful life – combative and chaotic situations feel normal. A peaceful environment can feel foreign and unsafe to an emotionally vulnerable veteran – causing a veteran to become hypervigilant and fearful during peaceful times, anxiously waiting for chaos to strike. A veteran may even try to create chaos, in order to feel the sense of normality they once felt while serving.
PTSD isn’t only caused through combative situations. A terrible illness, extreme political conflict, and any event that causes an extreme sense of danger – threatened or real – can cause PTSD. Additionally, Military Sexual Trauma is an unfortunately prevalent cause of PTSD in Veterans.
PTSD symptoms are detrimental to the quality of life for a veteran. One of the best ways to ease the symptoms and prevent PTSD is through the ownership of a Companion Dog.
How Can a Companion Dog Help?
A Companion Dog can benefit a Veteran with PTSD in many ways. Companion dogs create a sense, and provide much-needed comfort and love to an emotionally vulnerable veteran. This type of constant companionship and emotional regulation is invaluable to a veteran who is suffering from PTSD.
When a Veteran starts to experience severe symptoms of PTSD, like a racing heart-rate or rapid breathing, even petting a dog will help slow their heart rate and lower their blood pressure. These companion dogs also serve as a grounding force for a veteran and can even prevent flashbacks of previous trauma.
Saving Two Lives
Every dog we provide benefits two lives: an emotionally vulnerable veteran and a rescued dog! These rescued dogs will be professionally trained to serve as companions for our disabled brethren. Compared to a service dog, a companion dog is much less expensive to train, and can greatly impact the quality of life for a veteran with PTSD.
Companion Dogs Promote Healthy Lifestyles
Recent studies have also shown that dog ownership promotes healthy, exercise habits in their owners. Taking a companion dog for a walk not only helps the companion dog stay healthy and fit, it helps the veteran stay healthy and fit!
Help Us Provide Companion Dogs
Companion Dogs cost between $2,500 – $3,000 to professionally train. In 2021, our goal is to provide at least 5+ companion dog to disabled veterans in need. To raise enough funds, we will be hosting a day-long autocross rally, VetsRally4Vets. Click here to learn more about our VetsRally4Vets event, currently planned for May 29, 2021. You can also donate directly to DVEN here.
To learn more about the differences between Service Dogs and Companion Dogs, check out our infographic below.