July 4th Challenge: Free Dogs for PTSD Veterans
Soldiers in need, loyal dogs and the 4th of July - does it get more heart-tuggy than that? Dog Bless You, which provides free service or companion dogs to war veterans, especially those affected by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), has issued a social media challenge leading up to July 4th. The organization has vowed to pair a service or companion dog with a war veteran for every 1,000 follows on Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr that Dog Bless You receives from now until Independence Day, one week from tomorrow.
Called The Spirit of '76, the campaign goal is 76 service dogs and, as of yesterday, the organization reported over 47,000 new 'Likes' or 'pins' so, 47 dogs have been donated to deserving men and women who still wrestle with the challenges of daily life, post-war.
As any dog fan can tell you, the animals have an innate power to heal emotional wounds that run deep. While counseling and medication play a role is dealing with PTSD, is there a better treatment for a haunting pain than unconditional love 24/7? Maybe, but it certainly couldn't be as cute or slobbery. As one war vet said in a video for Paws for Purple Hearts, one of the participating organizations in the Dog Bless You effort:
"Not only has the dog helped me with my own emotional problems, it's showed me that I can progress in life and not have to sit in my apartment or sit in a treatment center. Why do I need these hardcore drugs when I can have a hardcore dog that keeps me on that level plane? I don't have to ride the roller coaster all day."
In addition to providing the dogs, Dog Bless You actively promotes the sharing of dog-soldier stories, specifically the unique needs of war veterans and how the dogs play an active role in their recovery from PTSD. Participating organizations and dog providers include:
Puppies Behind Bars - trains prison inmates to raise service dogs, incredible.
“Dogs are the guardian angels of the human soul, and few people need or deserve them more than those who have served our country. If we entrust dogs to help critical missions on the fields of war, we should entrust dogs to help take care of our men and women at home.”
Dog Bless You provided us with the latest statistics on issues facing veterans - not a pretty picture:
- 45% of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related
- Veterans are claiming 8-9 ailments on average, and the most recent ones over the last year are claiming 11-14
- 40% of all homeless people are veterans
- Eighteen veterans will commit suicide every day
- PTSD occurs in about 11-20% of Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom), 10% of Veterans of the Gulf War (Desert Storm), and 30% of Vietnam Veterans. Studies estimate that 1 in every 5 military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan has PTSD
- Health care costs for all veterans with PTSD will be an estimated $6.2 billion biannually
So, if you get a second, please make a clicky sound in the general direction of Dog Bless You and help them bring some peace to our veterans.
Happy (Early) 4th!