The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates as many as 20% of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom are suffering from PTSD. Operation Rubix offers a variety of services to help veterans with PTSD and other issues, but since “one size” does not fit all, some veterans may be better suited for alternative assistance such as a service dog.
Unfortunately, the VA does not yet offer service dogs to veterans, although studies of their effectiveness have been underway for several years. There are other groups such as K9s for Warriors or Southeastern Guide dogs who do accept veterans who pass a rigorous screening process.
Research from Purdue University in 2018 * in partnership with K9s for Warriors found that veterans can benefit from placement with service dogs. Veterans experienced lower levels of PTSD symptoms, reduced levels of depression, and an improved ability to manage social interactions. The dogs can perform actions such as providing tactile stimulation to reduce anxiety or standing in front of the veteran in crowds to provide a separation from other people.
The qualification process takes several months and many veterans are not found acceptable for a range of reasons including any felony convictions or history of violence. They must present documentation that they have been diagnosed with PTSD, provide information about their current health care providers, go through telephone interviews, and provide personal references. The service animal organizations are very careful about finding veterans who will benefit from interactions with a service animal. They don’t want to place an animal with the wrong person because it takes over two years to train the animal for its life as a service dog.
Operation Rubix is in Sarasota, Florida and serves the veterans in this area with a range of mental health services for veterans and their families. For more information about our services please call 941-777-8387.