Healing Paws for Warriors

Published: Oct. 3, 2018 at 2:56 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Hundreds of thousands of veterans are damaged by war... and that damage comes in many forms.

"Not everybody comes back needing a prosthetic leg. Some come back where they actually need a dog," said Co-Founder of Healing Paws for Warriors, Sheila Hale.

That's where the program, Healing Paws for Warriors steps in.

"We look at taking the dog, placing it with a veteran and that gives them a tool to reintegrate into the civilian world," explained Hale.

A tool that can help veterans suffering from all kinds of trauma.

"[Our goal is] providing a tool to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, or military sexual trauma," said Co-Founder of Healing Paws for Warriors, Mike Arena.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, vets are twice as likely as civilians to die by suicide.

"Unfortunately, we lose veterans daily, 22 a day," said Hale.

But this program is making a difference.

"I've always been able to function with my anxiety and PTSD but having him [my dog] just makes it that much easier. I'm less hypervigilant, I'm less likely to be afraid or anxious when I'm out and about," said Healing Paws for Warriors Graduate, Jillian Lesko.

"He [my dog] helps me out when I start having anxiety issues and it's life-changing," said Healing Paws for Warriors Graduate, Randy Hay.

And these dogs aren't trained to just help with emotional disabilities, but they're also trained to help with medical disabilities as well.

"He's an actual medical service dog, so therefore, you know, he's able to go with me everywhere and provide these medical services like block, cover, the touch therapy, the distraction, the grounding," said Lesko.

The dogs are taught those commands over a 120-hour course, then they train with their new companion for two to three months. Training doesn't end once they're with their owner.

"The training never really stops, the initial training is really hard, it's frustrating, and now that we've bonded, I can pretty much get him to do whatever I want," said Hay.

Allowing the graduates of this program to do more of what they want.

"There's many more months and years to come, and many more adventures to hopefully do, that I want to do, and I couldn't before," said Hay.