Service dogs can be a great resource for veterans struggling in life after service.
These specially trained canines help veterans with physical disabilities adjust to their new lifestyles. Service dogs are also key for servicemembers dealing with invisible war wounds like post-traumatic stress disorder. In times of stress, they provide comfort. And, when feelings of uselessness arise, they administer an antidote – a cold nose, a nudge toward the door.
The application process for acquiring a service animal is simple.
Clinicians at Department of Veterans Affairs health facilities across the country evaluate ex-servicemembers on a case-by-case basis. If approved, they are referred to an accredited agency, where they can request an animal. Third-party organizations like Patriot Paws train and provide high-quality service dogs to disabled veterans at no cost. In most cases, the VA provides veterinary care and equipment so dog owners are only responsible for routine costs such as food, boarding and grooming.