Men and women in the armed forces put their lives at risk when they enter combat duty, and some return home with physical injuries that require extensive rehabilitation. But many more return home to the US with invisible injuries: psychological problems like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The lingering trauma makes it extremely hard for veterans to adjust to normal life, but there are many organizations dedicated to making it easier.
Paws and Stripes is one of many charitable foundations that help veterans by providing service or companion dogs. The dogs are rescued from local shelters; each veteran who applies to the program is matched to a dog, and the pair then spend several months training together. It’s an incredible program that benefits both parties immensely—the dog gets a new life and a new home, and for the veteran, the effects can be life-changing too. The dogs provide companionship and support, and help to relieve feelings of anxiety and isolation; they can even be trained to provide more specific help, such as waking up their owner from nightmares or flashbacks.
Read more about Paws and Stripes, and the new documentary about this incredible organization.