Treating post-traumatic stress disorder and other afflictions that embattle veterans has become a far more innovative practice in the past few years, with groups and medical professionals branching out from traditional approaches. One of the most popular and widely respected trends in this area has been the increasing use of dogs, horses and other therapy animals to assist veterans in healing and regaining their footing upon returning from overseas.
"Groups are pairing veterans with rescue animals for therapy."
In some situations, advocacy groups are even working to help animals and veterans in one fell swoop. One such entity has been working to match former service members with rescue horses.
The Seattle Times recently reported that the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center has launched an equine therapy initiative that has already begun to positively impact veterans who get involved. According to the news provider, Army veteran Major Dan Thomas has been healing with the help of the program after being severely injured during his duty in Afghanistan. He plans to expand equine therapy to his home state of Alabama.
Because there are so many rescue horses in need of care and attention, the group from the medical center has worked with sanctuaries and state officials to coordinate sessions that allow veterans to contribute. Interestingly, the source pointed out that they have been particularly active with Friesian horses, which are known to be extremely smart and timid. Thomas worked with these horses in his therapy sessions.
"I've been through lots and lots of things. After being blown up, it's quite a traumatic experience for you," Thomas told The Seattle Times. "The horses are what works for me. So I know it's out there and works for other people because I've seen it."
This veteran's sentiments regarding the identification of specific types of therapy that work for him is largely the foundation for treatment centers and groups trying out so many different approaches to helping the service member community. Initiatives that match therapy dogs with veterans have also been immensely effective, though one new story has indicated that the funding needed to make these programs work is lagging behind demand.
Time to speed up
The Salem News recently reported that the current status of legislation on Capitol Hill has left a lot to be desired with respect to the PAWS Act, which would help veterans living with PTSD adopt service dogs. The news provider affirmed that service dogs are currently offered to veterans with physical ailments, but not mental ones, and that it currently appears as though the extension of the legislation to reach PTSD sufferers will not occur until 2018. This has upset certain members of Congress.
"Veterans cannot wait until 2018. The problem of veteran suicides is too urgent," Representative Ron DeSantis, who is acting chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, explained, according to the source.
Hopefully this program and others that have proved effective will go into action a bit quicker in the coming years.