How service dogs are helping veterans heal.

Time for a break.

I’m well up on my second book so thought that I should offer a post for the day.

It’s a documentary on how dogs are helping the veterans heal.

Here’s how it goes:

ooOOoo

Documentary shines a light on how service dogs are helping veterans heal

By MARY JO DILONARDO
November 7, 2019

Greg Kolodziejczy snuggles with his service dog, Valor, in a scene from the documentary ‘To Be of Service.’ (Photo: ‘To Be of Service’)

When veterans return from combat, many can’t leave behind the terrors they witnessed. In the U.S., roughly 22 veterans commit suicide every day — or one every 65 minutes — according to a report by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The psychological pain of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) breaks up relationships, ends jobs and causes depression and other issues. To help manage the haunting memories and pain, some veterans have found respite in four-legged treatment. Trained service dogs have helped some veterans return to their lives after combat.

The documentary “To Be of Service” follows several American veterans of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam and the dogs that help them cope with PTSD. The film was directed by Josh Aronson, known for the Oscar-nominated documentary “Sound and Fury” about deaf families.

Many of the veterans in the documentary had turned to medications, alcohol or illegal drugs to try to cope with life after combat. But the film shows how having to care for a dog gave them a sense of a purpose and an ever-present friend.

‘I had to tell these stories’

Glen Moody rarely left his house before being paired with Indy. (Photo: ‘To Be of Service’)

The documentary follows nearly a dozen veterans including Glen Moody, who was a Navy Corpsman stationed with the Marines in Iraq. He never got into a fight in his life before he was deployed, but he returned an adrenaline junkie. He would get into bar brawls and ride his motorcycle drunk at 100 mph. He was heavily meditated to treat his PTSD, but never went out, eventually losing all his friends.

“They spend millions to make us warriors but not near enough to teach us to return home,” Moody says.

After being paired with service dog Indy, his rage and anxiety has started to subside. He has made friends again and he rides his motorcycle “like an adult,” he says.

It’s stories like this that prompted producer Julie Sayres to get involved. She has been writing about and working with veterans for the past several years.

“I began to imagine how unsafe a veteran struggling with physical and emotional trauma must feel upon returning from war, to a world that doesn’t have a clue what he or she has endured. It’s isolating and terrifying, leading to never leaving the house, excessive drinking or drug use and in many cases, suicide. I began to explore what these amazing service dogs do to mitigate this kind of anguish,” said Sayres.

“I’ve seen men and women come back to life after letting a dog into their life. I’ve seen families come together after the black cloud of despair is lifted from their father, mother, daughter or son. I had to tell these stories.”

Currently, the film is scheduled for screenings in about a dozen cities, but more will likely be added. To find a screening near you or to find out how to schedule a community or educational screening, check out the film’s website.

Here’s a tissue-worthy peek at what to expect:

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I have said it before and no doubt that I will say it again many times: A dog is without doubt man’s best friend!

13 thoughts on “How service dogs are helping veterans heal.

  1. That made me tear up pretty bad. Dogs are amazing healers. They come into our lives when we need them the most. I must see that documentary.

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  2. As the owner of a pet therapy dog, I’m all in favor of these remarkable creatures helping our service veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs will help obtain and take care of dogs for veterans who suffer from physical disabilities like blindness or deafness, but not for mental health issues like PTSD. With 22 service members committing suicide every single day, I wish the VA would move quicker on the service dog remedy s to help those who protect us and sacrifice so much. Alas, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers Act of 2017 or the PAWS Act providing for a $10M grant to provide service dogs still languishes in Congress. A few private groups around the country cannot begin to fill in the gap. In my own state, Victory Service Dogs of Colorado Springs, CO has helped about 250 veterans since opening in 2015, only charging a $50 application fee, though, matching veterans with dogs and facilitating their training costs of thousands of dollars.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see, Monika, that this is a more complex problem than first reported. I use the term ‘complex’ to describe the Federal and State perambulations involved. It sort of reminds me of the saying: “Of all the forms of government, democracy is the least worst!” Or something like that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s true, much of how the government and its many agencies isn’t a simple black and white issue. It should be noted Congressman John Rutherford of Florida expressing his frustration, and recently said “How bad can it go? We’re giving them a dog, for God’s sake” with respect to the PAWS Act.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. As we already do know, our dogs (and cats) are amazing healers, Paul.
    To help the veterans should be the only right to do, after what they gave for their country. I wish it was possible to help all of them and I’m sure, that both humans and animals would get much joy of this.

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  4. What a wonderful inspiring post Paul… I watch a documentary on last night on a breed of dog trained to guard goats from Cheetahs I forget the breeds name, a huge dog.. but so loyal and loving..
    Then in the same programme how a cross breed PitBull who was rescued who was all but skeleton full of sores when a pup.. Was adopted by a family for companion to their young Autistic son.. Their son who wouldnt talk or eat regular food, then began to talk and eat.. The dog is now this young boys therapy dog and the bond was obvious..
    Dogs give so unconditionally and they instinctively KNOW who needs their Love..
    Great share..
    Much love to you both

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    1. Dear Sue, a fabulous reply to the post. Dogs are so, so special. Indeed, we probably have difficulty in coming up with new words. But it doesn’t alter the fact that the dog is a wonderful example of true unconditional love. Perfect!

      Liked by 1 person

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