Service Dogs Help America’s Veterans Where Medicine Cannot
These highly-trained pups help ease PTSD, anxiety, and more.
In a nation where 20 veterans die by suicide each day, service dogs are on the front lines of the battle to keep America's heroes safe at home.
One such hero, veteran De'Angelo Wynn, told the American Kennel Club that before he received his service dog Jug, he was taking 11 medications for the anxiety, PTSD, and other mental-health issues that have plagued him since returning from a deployment in Afghanistan. A year after the Labrador's arrival, Wynn is down to just two.
Jug is so much more than a cuddly companion. He was specifically trained by Veterans Moving Forward (VMF), a nonprofit based in Northern Virginia, to meet his human's needs. He is able to interrupt Wynn's anxiety even before Wynn realizes he's growing anxious.
"If he notices that I'm about to have an anxiety attack or a panic attack, he can interrupt that by nudging me or getting me to interrupt that by going outside," he told AKC. Jug also knows when to fetch Wynn's medication, and even wakes him up from night terrors by pulling off the covers and turning on the lights.
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"If it weren't for Jug, I don't know where I would be," Wynn said. "Actually, I do know where I would be—I would still be struggling with depression and bipolar disorder." Instead, he's student body president at Shenandoah University.
Other service dogs are trained to help with everything from mobility issues to social confidence.
Speaking with AKC, executive director of VMF and retired U.S. Marine JP Stevens, put it plainly. "Dogs can do things for veterans that medicine can't do. That nothing else can do."