Pairing dogs and troops with PTSD

McClatchy Washington Bureau continues their extremely stellar reporting on the effects of Wars and Occupations of others on those that serve in these theaters of operations, especially as to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder {PTSD} with the following report printed in their Kansas City Star:

Defense Dept. funding study pairing dogs and troops with PTSD

Persian Gulf War veteran Chris Kornkven (left) greeted Rainbow, a female Rhodesian ridgeback, as fellow Gulf War veteran Anthony Hardie met Kenji, another ridgeback, and his handler, Joan Esnayra. The dogs demonstrated how they could help troops with post-traumatic stress disorder during a military health research conference this week in Kansas City. Kornkven has PTSD.

Can a canine companion soothe the volatile emotions of a soldier haunted by post-traumatic stress disorder?

It may sound far-fetched, but the Department of Defense wants to find out.

It is spending millions of dollars on medical research projects like this that may yield groundbreaking results but are too speculative for other government agencies to consider.

While PTSD, especially from the trauma of combat of military operations, has always been a result of Wars, and not only for the combat troops, it didn’t start getting recognized for what it was until we started returning from Vietnam and it not only recognized but given the name. Studies followed but way to few and not funded properly. Much of that early work was done by us ‘Nam Vets and a few in the civilian population, who also recognized that this occurs with many suffering traumatic experiences in their lives. But when you have huge numbers of individuals you send into combat invasions and occupations, huge numbers of them return with varying degree’s of the stresses and trauma’s of what took place, everyone is changed, no matter how or what the training, some more severely with the reliving and recurring memories of.

Kenji (left) and Rainbow are specially trained by the Psychiatric Service Dog Society to assist people with severe mental disability. Their handlers were Joan Esnayra, the society’s founder, and Craig Love, a psychologist.

These psychiatric service dogs have been assisting people with a variety of mental illnesses since the late 1990s. About 10,000 such dogs are now in use.

New but preliminary research suggests that the dogs may be particularly helpful for people with PTSD.

And that has the military interested.


“Where there’s a good idea but not much data, we’re willing to take a risk.”

The Defense Department has measures in place to make sure that innovative ideas get a fair hearing, Kaime said.

When the department sends applications for research grants to its review panels, it deliberately leaves out the names of the scientists and their institutions, so decisions are based on the merits of their proposals and not their reputations.

Finally, after some four decades of strong advocacy by many of us, there are many programs and studies taking place all over the country to help those suffering from the results of their service in combat occupations of others countries. Some of these will wither away depending on the results of, but others will flourish and give the help and better understanding needed, and more will come from further studies.

It’s really great to see the DoD getting more involved and finally recognizing the existence of especially as they are finally recognizing the actions of some who suffer from in their taking of their own lives or the lives of others, which in most cases can be the causes of their trauma and lack of help and counseling for, plus the stigma within the ranks of even reporting one is having problems.

An online Veterans news group, Veterans Today, made up of mostly free lance Veterans doing reporting on the many issues of the Veterans community, do an almost daily Top 10 called Top 10 Veterans News from Around the Country, this current one is for 9-03-09. And in this issue page it carries this:

5. Tracking Suicides By New Vets Said To Be A Problem.   The Indianapolis Star (9/3, Marshall, 241K) asks, “How many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have come back, haunted by memories of war and struggling to cope with life at home, and taken their own lives? Nobody knows,” and therein “lies one of the most serious obstacles to preventing suicides by returning veterans. A 2008 Congressional Research Service Report on the issue put it

bluntly” when it said, “There is no nationwide system for surveillance” of veteran suicides. The Star adds, “Recognizing the crucial gap in data, the Army and the National Institute of Mental Health have partnered for a five-year, $50 million study on military suicides.” The Department of Veterans Affairs, meanwhile, “has launched” a “10-year health study examining 60,000 ‘new’ veterans, mostly those involved” in Iraq and Afghanistan operations.

The bolding above I placed in as to highlight the fact that this is also not new as to Wars and Occupations of others, Post Traumatic Stress developing from, and especially coming out of Wars of Choice! Add on these Multiple Tours in not only one but two military operations and Guess What! There is also five related topics and links following the one, from the Indianapolis Star, above, at the link above.

Much has finally been coming out of the DoD and especially the Veterans Administration, much of it coming from a Congress finally doing their jobs with investigations and hearings as well as over-site, these past two plus years, which wasn’t done by the previous congresses as they walked in lockstep towards sending, and then doing so, our military into two long running occupations, and rarely mentioned nor hearings held for the first five and six years of, respectively, these still running occupations!

Lets hope the forward actions continue, they’re all now taking place in a Catch Up mode, but that will only happen if and when the American Public stop their representatives from Obstructing what already should have long ago been, proper funding and over-site, which would be cheaper now if it had been done before, especially as to keeping these agencies up to date with the advanced technology, placing it in or advanced of the 21st century, not the 20th century!

1 comment

    • jimstaro on September 4, 2009 at 17:42

    The Veterans Today link above:


    They call it Warriors Walk, a ten-bed unit where a dedicated team of doctors and nurses to care for terminally ill veterans during the last days of their journey. The new hospice care facility is opening at the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia; SC. Warriors Walk will be dedicated to assisting veterans during the final months of their life, with a talented medical staff specially trained in end of life issues. The focus is on relieving pain, managing symptoms, and offering emotional and spiritual support to comfort terminally ill veterans. In addition to the nursing staff, Warriors Walk includes support areas where families and friends of the veterans can come and visit and spend time with their loved ones. They are encouraged to bring memorabilia and mementos to personalize the veterans’ space and make them feel at home. In addition to VA staff, Warriors Walk is supported by many special volunteers who give their time and energy to support the terminally ill. For the grand opening, the Daughters of the American Revolution stitched blankets for every room to make it more like home for the veterans. The VA always strives to give the best care and support to our veterans’ that is possible. This is the last care they will receive and Warriors Walk staff is working hard to ensure it is of the highest quality and comfort.

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