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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 7 years ago

Guide dogs ready to aid vets

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If you're a veteran with PTSD that hasn't been handled well thus far, or a veteran with a service-related disability, here's a possible answer for you: dogs.
by: Freddy Groves

If you’re a veteran with PTSD that hasn’t been handled well thus far, or a veteran with a service-related disability, here’s a possible answer for you: dogs. Specially trained guide and service dogs are available for veterans who are blind or disabled by physical, traumatic brain injury or PTSD.

• Patriot PAWS Service Dogs (patriotpaws.org) trains service dogs to perform services for disabled veterans with the goal of increasing the veteran’s self-sufficiency. Here’s a partial list of what the dogs are trained to do: get help in emergencies, recognize PTSD episodes, take off shoes and socks, and help with laundry (who knew?). Contact Patriot PAWS at 972-772- 3282 [email protected].

• America’s Vet Dogs (vetdogs.org) covers a wide range when it comes to matching dogs with veterans. Dogs are trained for vision and hearing assistance, climbing stairs and so much more for seriously injured veterans. It also provides dogs for physical and occupational therapy at Walter Reed. Contact 1-866-838-3647 or [email protected].

The Department of Veterans Affairs will take care of most of the costs of providing eligible veterans with guide or service dogs. See www.va.gov/health/serviceandguidedogs.asp for specifics. Approved veterans will be referred to Assistance Dogs International (www.assistancedogsinternational.org) for service dogs and to National Association of Guide Dog Users (www.nagdu.org) for guide dogs. The VA will pay for the dog and its training, plus veterinary care, but not for subsequent expenses such as food.

If you don’t need services but want to help veterans who do, go online to America’s Fund (americasfund.org), an arm of the Semper Fi organization. This non-profit charity steps in to help veterans with adaptive transportation, home modifications and emergency funding. It consistently get A-plus and four-star ratings from the big charity watchdogs. If you can, open your wallet and send them some money.

Freddy Groves regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Send email to [email protected]

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