Monday, February 7, 2011

Canine Companions

For many veterans, the horrors of war remain a constant reality even upon returning home. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is becoming increasingly common. According to Lawrence M. Wein, a professor of management science at Stanford,"about 35 percent of soldiers and marines who deploy to Iraq will ultimately suffer from P.T.S.D. — about 300,000 people, with 20,000 new sufferers for each year the war lasts." These men and women return to their homes feeling detached, paranoid, and frustrated. Problems with sleep only intensify these issues.

In order to treat those with PTSD, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn) is proposing a bill that would provide veterans with a new type of treatment: dogs. Trained service dogs have the ability to aid veterans in coping with their disorder and ease them back into normal life, according to dog trainer Jon Dwyer.

Personally, I find this type of treatment a very exciting and positive prospect. Instead of relying on medication that can often numb or have adverse effects on the user, I think the companionship and unconditional love these patients can receive from dogs is a far more effective treatment. Hopefully this bill will go through and the success of the program may help it spread to other states.

-John Stone
Photo via Al Brittain

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