An Ally in Healing

Some families have spent years living with the nightmares, depression and anger of a veteran’s PTSD, while desperately trying to find ways to cope. Others are just getting started.

“When one person joins, the whole family serves” is a common saying among military personnel. Over two million children in the United States have had a parent deployed to active military duty since the start of the Global War on Terrorism. According to the Department of Defense, there are more than 1.3 million military children that are school age.

Readjustment to civilian life following military service presents a challenge not only to the Veteran, but to the family. Deployed service members return to their children, spouses, and families with visible and invisible injuries, such as combat related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Military children live with the constant fear of losing a parent, parental separation, moving and making new friends, all while living in a household with one often overloaded parent, holding down the fort. The dynamics of welcoming a returning parent that has been injured physically or mentally is real. The Veterans Administration now estimates that a Veteran dies by suicide every 80 minutes. “Secondary PTSD” is a diagnosis that is becoming a reality for many military families. Managing stress as a family needs to be a high priority.

Vets Helping Heroes (VHH) honors the courage of our nation’s heroes and their families, both on the battlefield and at home. VHH is committed to providing professionally trained guide and service dogs to Veterans, active duty and their families.

The dogs we provide are irreplaceable. Beyond helping the Veteran they help the family:

  • Decrease feelings of isolation and increased sense of well-being.
  • Daily structure and healthy habits and motivation to exercise.
  • Increase sense of security and non-judgmental, affectionate companionship.
  • Increased sense of self-esteem and optimism.

The relationship that a dog can offer is unique because it is deep and loving, yet uncomplicated, consistent, and safe from the possibility of rejection. To date, there are volumes of scientific data that suggests that dogs positively influence us on psychological and physiological levels. It is no mystery why dogs are called “man’s best friend”.

Original post date: 11/09/2013
Article written by: Kathy Genovese, Board of Directors, Vets Helping Heroes