The military and veteran community has long struggled with the notion that PTSD is a real illness that demands legitimate medical treatment, and theyíve struggled with receiving the resources they need to receive that treatment. And while there are institutional issues with how we treat our veterans and active service members, a big part of the issue come down to a lack of education. A service dog can be an incredibly effective way to manage your PTSD, but many veterans donít understand the steps they need to take to get approved for one. Hereís what you need to know if youíre seeking out a service dog to help manage your PTSD.
1. Evaluate the Benefits and Disadvantages
Letís make one thing clear: a service dog isnít going to be the right choice for everyone. Depending on your personality and the severity of your PTSD, they might not be a good fit – and while service dogs are here to help, they still come with a lot of responsibility. Consider how active you are and how often youíll travel. While all businesses are required to accommodate service animals, that doesnít mean that there arenít additional logistical issues to bringing them with you. And dogs have their own needs which can encourage activity in depressed owners but can also be overwhelming.
2. Seek Out the Right Organization For You
Fortunately, there are a number of organizations on both a national and a local level that help connect people with PTSD with dogs. These assistance dogs have been trained specifically to help people suffering from PTSD, and the organizations can work with you to find a dog that suits your temperament and any specific conditions or symptoms you may have. Assistance Dogs International is the authoritative directory for service dog organizations, and they can help you find a group thatís located near you.
3. Understand Your Financial Options
If youíre a military member or veteran diagnosed with PTSD, there are organizations that can provide you with a service dog free of charge. As far as the other costs involved with taking care of a dog, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs can assist with that. Youíll want to go to the VA benefits page to make sure that you qualify and go through the process of applying for a service dog. The VA will cover most medical expenses and handle the costs for any necessary equipment.
4. Figuring Out Your Budget
Even with help from Veterans Affairs, taking on a new animal is going to have an impact on your budget. Food, water, toys, and other daily necessities arenít covered by the VA, and youíre also on the hook for over-the-counter medications, grooming, and boarding. Take the time to calculate the costs and figure out how it fits your budget. If money is tight, there may be aid organizations available that can help you get your finances in order.
5. Find the Right Dog
Any service dog organization worth your time will be prepared to help connect you with the perfect dog for your needs. We consider researching the sorts of breeds that interest you and figuring out what qualities you need for a dog that suits both your lifestyle and your temperament. A service dog can help you through the rough moments, but theyíre also going to be a long-term companion. That means finding the perfect dog for you is important. If you have any issues while trying to get a service dog, it may be worth it to pursue legal counsel. Barry Law specializes in helping former and current service members get what theyíre due. They can help clarify any questions you have about how to get a service dog for PTSD.