Many men who service our military come back from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatizing experiences. Not all men can overcome those experiences and develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. PTSD is defined by the National Institute of Health as an anxiety disorder that develops in people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. People with PTSD tend to be in a down mood. Owning a dog can elevate your mood and help you feel less stressed.
Others who have gone through traumatic events can develop PTSD as well. These events may include:
- Child sexual or physical abuse
- Sexual or physical assault
- Serious accidents, such as a car wreck
- Natural disasters, such as a fire, tornado hurricane, flood, or earthquake
Benefits of Owning an ESA
How can a dog help with PTSD? Dogs are a mans best friend. They have attributes and an attitudes that will make your heart sing. Some of those include:
- Unconditional love
- When well trained, they take commands well. This benefits ex-military because they are used to give demands to others.
- You’ll exercise more, increasing endorphins
- You will feel safer and have a companion
Research shows that when dogs and humans interact it increases the levels of oxytocin. Meg Daley Olmert, who works for a program called Warrior Canine Connection says that,
Oxytocin is thought to be associated with pair bonding and a reduction in fear or anxiety.
She also has written a book titled Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond. In the book she explains how an interaction with dogs triggers a chemical that reduces fears and increases trust with others.
A Story From A Veteran
Robert Soliz, a 31 year young former Army Specialist, was discharged from the Army in 2005 after serving in South Baghdad. When he came back to states he was experience fear, depression and substance abuse, leading into PTSD.
Soliz remembers he couldn’t show affection towards his family and felt isolated. “Going to the movies was the worst: the crowds, the dark, the whispering. I would constantly be scanning for who was going to come stab me from behind”.
Teaming up with Paws For Purple Hearts saved his life. Paws for Purple Hearts offers a program for military with PTSD to train service dogs for their fellow servicemen with combat-related injuries.