War Dogs and PTSD

Image

I have seen many television news reports and read many news magazines and newspapers about the large number of military personnel returning home who are suffering with many post-war emotional conditions.  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the formal name, but the name doesn’t begin to address the magnitude of the problems these men and women face.  Often ignored are the military dogs that suffer from it as well.  These wonderful, dutiful, and loyal animals serve many purposes during war times, but most commonly are used in bomb detection, rescue efforts, protection, and to search for cadavers.

Image

Such dogs serve a finite period of time, just like their human counterparts, and they return home with many of the same shifts in mood and behavior, such as being withdrawn and timid, sudden aggression, changes in appetite, avoiding people or places, or extreme reactions to seemingly simple benign things. Estimates suggest that about 5% of military dogs experience some measure of PTSD – some experience acute episodes and others experience chronic episodes.  About half of those diagnosed are retired from services because their condition is too severe.

I was surprised to learn that there are veterinarians specially trained to diagnose and treat PTSD, and treatment has generally been successful and many of these animals quickly return to work. Those for which treatment is unsuccessful are returned home for additional treatment and either returned to work CONUS to perform different, less taxing duties or are retired completely from military service. A military facility at Lackland Air Force base in Texas has a comprehensive treatment clinic specifically devoted to treat and care for dogs that have served the military and law enforcement.  Border Patrol animals and Customs animals are also treated there.

If you’re a dog lover, don’t feel too bad.  There are efforts to connect those dogs that are retired with loving homes. There is growing interest in animal adoption organizations to include former war dogs. It’s a win-win for everyone. The military doesn’t want to abandon these animals, who still have many years of life remaining; animal lovers and animal rights activists like the idea of the animals getting loving homes; and the animals themselves can still live out their lives in meaningful ways.  To me, the latter is the best part of the adoptions.

Image

Isn’t this great?  But I wonder if the animals get completely cured?  I know a few people with post-war PTSD who never were quite right afterwards. You can tell as soon as you meet them that something is a little off.  It’s probably the same way with the dogs too.

Sources:

1.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/02/us/more-military-dogs-show-signs-of-combat-stress.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

2.  http://articles.latimes.com/2012/nov/26/nation/la-na-military-dogs-20121126

3.  http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/04/09/fort-bragg-dogs-adopted-for-vets-with-ptsd.html

Advertisements

About Will S.

A nouveau Taurus, writing about my view of the world around me. From politics, to social problem, to public corruption, music and movies to pretty much anything I feel inspired to write.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to War Dogs and PTSD

  1. wingtrue says:

    Strangely enough people with authentic PTSD are perfectly right afterwards…. We see things so clearly that others have to catch up with us. We have had a rude and accelerated awakening. Nothing wrong there…. Just pure facts and truth. It’s hard to be with such smart people… yes.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s