Every day, our brave service men and women stand ready to protect us. But for many, the hardest battle is the one they face after returning home: post traumatic stress (PTSD). When this happens, who stands ready to protect them? Often, it’s a service dog.
Since June is National PTSD Awareness Month, we wanted to spotlight these heroic service dogs, and let breeders know about an organization helping to pair them with veterans.
What service dogs do
Service dogs are highly compassionate, intelligent animals who are specially trained to alleviate anxiety and mental health conditions experienced by veterans and others with PTSD. According to the US Department of Federal Affairs, up to 20% of veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have PTSD each year.
“[Service dogs] help veterans to get back into the community, function again and enjoy life.”
— Francess McMahon, Founder & Director Stand With Me, Assistance Dog Team Training
Finding the best option
There are a variety of organizations that provide veterans with service dogs—but the cost can be prohibitive: between $25,000 and $50,000.
Stand With Me is one organization that helps veterans with mental disabilities train their own dogs, so the cost is markedly less—closer to $5,000. This way Stand With Me’s fundraising efforts go further in helping more veterans get the therapeutic support they need. The organization also provides help to those veterans who need to obtain a canine candidate for the program, but do not own a dog.
Making the right match
Embark employee, Meghan Jensen, Ph.D, has served as a Board Member, Fundraising Director, grant writer and Scientific Advisor for Stand With Me since March of 2018, helping pair dogs with veterans. To do this, she considers the needs, background, and personal requests of veterans, and leverages her extensive knowledge of biology and animal sciences to consult on the genetics of service dog breeds.
Meghan Jensen, Ph.D., and her dog, Bruin
Engaging breeder support
Many breeders have contributed to the organization’s efforts in a variety of ways. Some have provided direct assistance. Others have generously donated puppies from their litters, to help eliminate cost. Still others have provided military discounts to veterans buying a puppy from their litter.
What you can do
Check out all the ways you can help veterans obtain service dogs to combat PTSD.
- Support Stand With Me: Donate to the Stand With Me Assistance Dog Team Training Program to provide immediate and direct assistance to veterans.
- Learn about service dogs: Check out 6 organizations that provide service dogs for veterans.
- Provide military discounts: Help veterans buying a puppy for their service needs.
- Tell your senator to support the PAWS Act: In February of 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act, H.R. 4305, which would allocate federal funds for the training of service dogs for veterans.
The V.A. covers the cost of service dogs for veterans with select physical disabilities, but not PTSD. However, putting federal dollars behind service dogs would help veterans across the country. Now that the PAWS Act has passed the House, American Humane is working to see it pass the Senate and be signed into law (American Humane Org).
Let’s work together to help veterans
Embark will donate to cover the costs of transportation to and from training lessons for a veteran that does not have a car or cannot drive for one whole year.