Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the most prominent and dangerous threats facing veterans today. When affected by this serious psychological condition, coming home from active duty becomes exponentially more difficult. Thankfully, resources are being directed toward programs and solutions that may be able to spare veterans from PTSD's most serious effects.
The use of therapy animals is one of the methods rising to prominence to help individuals suffering from trauma. The most common image of an animal companion is the faithful service dog, but some of these programs have taken on a different character, as there are many ways to treat PTSD.
Parrots as therapy animals
CBS recently shed light on an underexposed corner of the therapeutic world, pointing out that parrots are being used as therapy animals in programs for combat veterans. The birds bond with their human caretakers, with the connection helping to form an oasis of calm. For those suffering from stress and the after-effects of traumatic experiences, this type of quiet time caring for an animal may be just what they need to regain some equilibrium.
"They've taught me patience, they taught me trust. They taught me all about how you can be happy and playful even in the midst of pain," Coast Guard Reserve veteran Lilly Love told CBS. Love lived through a helicopter crash that killed many others and dealt with depression.
Lorin Lindner, founder of animal sanctuary Serenity Park, explained to the news provider that interacting with birds can bring out feelings of calm and softness that may be hard to access for those dealing with trauma, even in other types of therapy. The connection between human and animal can serve individuals in ways that conversations with other people cannot always accomplish. This shows the value of therapy animal programs relating to PTSD
CBS noted that the birds used as service animals tend to have had traumatic experiences of their own. Domestic parrots need frequent care, and when they live longer than their owners, they may end up cast out and cut off from that attention. Receiving that much-needed upkeep can soothe the birds, even as they help bring calm to the veterans feeding and grooming them.
PTSD receiving consistent attention
The use of therapy animals isn't the only approach currently being taken to counter the harmful effects of PTSD. Thankfully for veterans suffering from the condition, many events have been organized in the past few years to ease their burden. Pennsylvania-area news site Lehigh Valley Live recently focused on one such project, the Carry The Fallen Ruck March. This is a hike of about eight miles, with each participant carrying gear that stands in for the emotional burden of PTSD.
The news provider explained that the ruck march is a non-profit endeavor, raising money for Active Heroes, the owner and operator of a retreat for veterans. The event is open to people of all ages, with children as young as 7 marching alongside adults, all united in their attempts to raise awareness of and money for those who have returned home suffering from PTSD. Through more community events such as these, hopefully more individuals will find the help they need.