The People's Advocate SWLA

The Patriot Dog Program

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been called the “signature wound” of those who serve or are currently serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The medical definition seems simple: “an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.” Combat PTSD is a normal reaction to abnormal and extreme life events.Patriot Dogs Champ and Wallie

One in five OEF/OIF Veterans will suffer from PTSD or Depression, often with a peak in problems occurring two to three months after deployment. Some veterans may have problems much later. THE ISSUES THAT ARISE FROM COMBAT PTSD ARE ANYTHING BUT SIMPLE. Those experiencing PTSD must endure a number of torturous symptoms. They relive the event through flashbacks and nightmares.

PTSD sufferers feel compelled to stay away from situations that remind them of the event. They are unable to talk about things related to the experience, and avoid things and discussions that trigger memories.

The PTSD wounded constantly experience a fear of losing control. In addition, these men and women often feel keyed up. Difficulty falling or staying asleep, feelings of anger and a sense of hyper vigilance are all part of living with PTSD.

 This is where the New Leash on Life Patriot Dog Program enters the picture. The program matches specially trained dogs with U.S. veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and helps them heal.  As Beth Zilbert, executive director of The People's Advocate and representative of the local Patriot Dog program, describes the program: "It's another tool in the toolbox for the vets to be able to heal and re-integrate after serving you know live on the line, serving our country."

Josh Droddy, a veteran involved with the program: "Because as a veteran, you come home from Iraq or Afghanistan, you come home with emotional scars from the war, maybe you can integrate back home successfully, maybe you can't sleep, maybe you have anger issues. This program gives soldiers new hope a new life. Gives them that feeling of regeneration, that feeling of like that phoenix-approach, where they can come out and shine again."

A major goal of the Patriot Dog program is to reduce the number of suicides among U.S. veterans.

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Patriot Dog Program


Click here for a slide showVeteran Chris Nuss, and his New Leash on Life Patriot Dog Wallie, give back to the Lake Charles community by visiting with patients at Extended Care on Wednesday, July 24 and at the Jennings Veterans Home.

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