One of the characters in my soon-to-be-released romantic suspense series is a veteran. Walker is cynical, jaded and suffers from PTSD. He’s seen and done things he can’t forget and spends a good deal of time alone just trying to cope.
Of course, my novels are fiction. PTSD is all too real.
This week I heard about a new hero on the block—Pets for Vets. Actually not that new, Pets for Vets was founded in 2008 by Clarissa Black, animal behaviorist and trainer, as a way to help veterans suffering from physical and/or emotional injuries reclaim some normalcy in their lives.
Their mission statement reads: The Pets for Vets program is dedicated to providing a second chance for shelter pets by rescuing, training and pairing them with America’s veterans who could benefit from a companion animal.
Each animal is rescued through local rescue groups, given basic obedience training and any specialized training that will help them in their new lives before being placed in forever homes.
It’s estimated that between one-in-eight to one-in-five Iraq war vets have some degree of PTSD. These men and women suffer anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, flashbacks and extreme wariness.
According to the ASPCA, between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats are abandoned at humane societies every year. Fifty percent of shelter dogs and seventy percent of shelter cats are euthanized because no one wants them. Studies have shown that pets can help alleviate stress and loneliness as well as increase opportunities for exercise and socialization through outdoor activities.
The Pets for Vets program focuses on bringing together animals needing to be rescued and veterans needing a companion for a better quality of life. They believe these companion animals may be the life saving therapy or friend that many returning service men and women need.
Who is eligible? Veterans who have a condition that could benefit from a trained companion animal and who are able to care for a pet are eligible to receive a Pets for Vets companion animal.
I encourage you to go to their website at www.pets-for-vets.com and read the many wonderful and heartfelt stories about veterans who’ve sacrificed so much for us and who’ve now been given the gift of companionship and unconditional love. It’s a humbling and eye-opening experience.
Thanks for stopping by. If you think Pets for Vets has the right idea, spread the word!