The Press Democrat: Thumbs up: Canine companions for vets
Thumbs up for a program that will place service dogs with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has covered veterinary bills for dogs assisting veterans who are blind or deaf since 2002. An effort to extend the benefit to veterans suffering from PTSD and other mental illnesses started almost a decade ago, but studies to gauge the therapeutic value of service dogs have been plagued by delays.
Despite the delays, a number of organizations have stepped up to help some of the 350,000-plus veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who have sought VA assistance with PTSD. One of them is Santa Rosa’s Canine Companions for Independence, which is taking part in a pilot program that will provide 100 veterans with service dogs for the ongoing studies. “I strongly believe that service dogs are not just changing lives, they’re saving lives among our veterans with PTS,” Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, said Monday at a news conference spotlighting the pilot program. That’s something else to be thankful for this holiday weekend.