Just an animal or man’s best friend?

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Just an animal or man’s best friend?

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Movie theaters use to cause him a lot of stress, says Robert Soliz, 31, a former army specialist. Soliz was discharged from a heavy artillery, quick reaction force. Once he was home everything changed. “I couldn’t even hug my kids,” Soliz said. He finally knew he needed to get some help.

A lot of the men who come back from combat suffer from depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  PTSD occurs when someone gets caught in a life-altering situation such as a natural disaster, combat or a terrorist attack. The diagnosis is made if the symptoms last more than one month consecutively and only if the behavior interferes with family or work life. Robert Soliz fits the description to the point; he looked for programs to help him and came across Paws for Purple Hearts.

Paw for Purple Hearts was founded in 2006 by California’s Burgin University while doing studies on canines. The program searches for Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers as puppies so they can be trained. They undergo about 18-24 months of training because they must master 90 commands to aid the soldiers in their everyday lives.  The veterans, depending on their disabilities, will be placed with  dogs that have been trained for those certain disabilities. Other dogs that aren’t used for disability training will be used for therapy and released to the family of a combat veteran.

The Paws for Purple Hearts programs help soldiers with PTSD regulate emotions and tempers, improved sleep, family skills and a wean off of medications. Once the veteran has spent time with his dog, the dog is adopted by its veteran for the rest of its life. Right now there are only four locations for training: two in Maryland, one in Virginia and one in California.

Like The Paws for Purple Hearts the program, The Guardians of Rescue reunites dogs with the soldiers who spent time together on an assignment. In November of 2000, Bill Clinton passed an amendment stating that retired combat dogs were allowed to come home and be adopted by the soldiers instead of being euthanized. Before the amendment was passed, soldiers who had spent time with the dogs while in combat would have to leave their “battle buddies” behind. Losing the only thing close to them at that point and time can be emotionally devastating. Dogs can be beneficial in many ways to many people.

The news of the program has gone viral, highlighting its fantastic work. “The troops will tell you that they sleep a lot better having dogs with them,” Robert Misseri, founder of Guardians of Rescue, said. The men in the army  find stray dogs that aren’t owned and make the companions while oversees. Once the soldiers return to the United States, the Guardian of Rescue program travels overseas to previous camp grounds and searches for the dogs that the soldiers have described and bring them back home.  There is no cost to the veteran. “Raising that kind of money isn’t easy, but helping our heroes and their four legged battle buddies is the least we can do. After all, they sacrifice their lives for our freedom on a daily basis.”

 

 

 

 

 

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