When Veterans return home from duty in Special Duty Areas or War Zones, many are diagnosed with the invisible wounds referred to as Operational Stress Injuries or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is a difficult diagnosis for the Veteran to live with and the general public to understand. It is time to treat PTSD with the respect and understanding it deserves.
Elizabeth Baker, owner of Thames Center Service Dogs is attempting to make Veterans transition easier. Her goal is to provide them all with Psychiatric Service dogs. She works closely with Parkwood Hospital's OSI clinic in a pilot project involving her dogs.
Her goal is hampered by two major factors. Veteran Affairs Canada is unwilling to consider funding for the dog and it's training. That leaves the Veteran to try to secure funding through service groups. So far, the Provincial Poppy fund has come through for two dogs, however, let's be realistic; they certainly cannot be expected to continue to be the sole source of funding. $6000.00 is a tidy sum for a Veteran on a limited budget could afford. Veteran Affairs need to be educated as to the value of the animal companion.
These dogs are trained to handle complicated tasks and contribute much to their handlers. The can assist with night terrors, depression and panic attacks. They offer the handler a sense of security and comfort when needed most. They assist in the identification of a disability without disclosure and can intervene when an uninformed individual attempts to assist the handler. Dogs will also take into consideration, safety of the family and will react accordingly in case of a fire or accident.
These dogs have the legal rights of any service dog and the expectation is that the community accepts them freely.
Should you feel the funding issue is totally incorrect and unfair (remember, the dog is prescribed by a doctor) write to: Veteran Affairs PO Box 7700, Charlottetown PE C1A 8M9, or drop into your district office and drop off a letter of support. Veterans need support and it can only come from you.