Approximately 44.7 million people develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and 24.4 million people, or 8 percent of the population, suffers from PTSD at any given time, according to the nonprofit organization PTSD United, Inc.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reported that PTSD affects between 11 to 20 percent of military veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, about 12 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans, and about 30 percent of Vietnam veterans.
PTSD can also impact many other people involved in other kinds of common accidents or traumatic situations. PTSD often involves a number of symptoms, including flashbacks to traumatic events, extreme irritability, and depression.
One of the great recent revelations for many people living with PTSD has been the benefits afforded by service dogs. In most cases, service dogs are designed to provide the victim with many services, including giving comfort following nightmares, retrieving medication, and locating exits when victims suffer panic attacks.
Is a Service Dog the Best Option for You?
As Mental Health America notes, there are three different kinds of service dogs:
- Psychiatric service dog (PSD) — Dogs trained to assist people with psychiatric or mental disabilities such as PTSD.
- Emotional support animal (ESA) — Any domestic animal intended to help with the emotional or psychological symptoms of a handler’s condition or disorder. Not trained to perform specific tasks like PSDs.
- Therapy animals — Animals used to provide affection and comfort, but do not serve any additional function.
Mental Health America points out that people need to “seriously consider the responsibilities that come with taking care of a service animal.” For most PTSD victims, a PSD is the best choice because the dog will be specially trained to provide specific assistance.
Qualifying for a Service Dog & Resources for Finding a Service Dog
When you are looking for a service animal, you may want to seek the assistance of an organization that assists people in obtaining service dogs. For veterans, Soldier’s Best Friend, Canine Angels, Paws for Veterans, and Service Dogs for America are four popular options.
Other organizations like Canines 4 Hope and Pawsitivity train PTSD service dogs. Considering the training that you will want in your service dog, you should invest serious time in investigating the organization you plan to adopt your dog through.
People cannot train their own dogs to become service dogs, as most organizations specifically select their dogs. In many cases, obtaining a service dog for PTSD can be challenging and may take some people several years.
Legal Consultation If Your Claim for a Service Dog Was Denied
If you need a service dog for your PTSD and are encountering difficulty getting one, you could benefit from having legal representation. A skilled lawyer will be able to help you prove your condition and acquire the animal you need.
George Sink is a Vietnam veteran with a lifelong disability who now handles disability claims for veterans all over the country. Call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.