Why a Veteran Service Dog Training Program?
Many heroes have two legs, but some have four. For these brave, specialized working dogs, the greatest joy in life comes from partnering with a veteran who needs them. Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), is a common disorder that impacts hundreds of thousands of veterans, causing anxiety and fear that causes changes in the body that triggers the body’s “fight-or-flight” response, even in situations where seemingly no danger is present. Service dogs make a real difference in helping a veteran cope with the symptoms of PTS like; flashbacks, bad dreams, difficulty sleeping, guilt, depression, fear and worry which plague roughly one-third of the men and women who have spent time in war zones. Many veterans dealing with the crippling effects of PTS experience hopelessness and fear with no viable solution. In fact, less than 40% of veterans ever seek treatment, and countless others face wait times at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that can stretch into months or years. We believe there is a simple and relatively inexpensive solution that is changing veterans’ lives for the better. This solution comes with four paws, a wet nose, a happy tail and some very specialized training – a veteran service dog. Veterans who utilize service dogs report lower levels of depression and anxiety, fewer hospitalizations, decrease in medications and numerous other benefits.
Man’s Best Friend – can truly be a Veteran’s Best Medicine
What is Company 2 Heroes?
Company 2 Heroes (C2H) is a unique service dog training program specializing in guided/assisted self-training of service dogs working with combat veterans from all wars who are suffering and diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Our experienced professional all-volunteer training staff works with the Veteran and their dog to train and certify them as a service dog team to perform tasks and help alleviate many of the symptoms combat Veterans battle daily. Company 2 Heroes is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization entirely funded by the generous contributions from the community’s public support. We are an ALL VOLUNTEER program, and there is no charge to the Veteran for participation. It is our duty, honor and privilege to give back to those who have given so much. The program is designed to work with the individual veteran to train their own dog or rescue (of proper age, size and temperament) to perform the specialized functions that will provide much needed assistance, independence and companionship necessary in helping those suffering from PTS, TBI or MST. We welcome all Veterans who wish to improve their own independence through the use of a service dog.
- Open and available to Veterans with a VA rated diagnosis or treated disability for PTS, TBI or MST
- No long waiting periods to start to train your own Service Dog – Start application process today!
- Cost-free weekly training classes in a “train the trainer style”
- Specialized Service Dog training is provided at varying certification levels to meet the federal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Healing the Invisible Wounds of War
Company 2 Heroes advocates expanded use of service dogs exclusively in the veteran community and educates how the increased use of service dogs is saving veterans’ lives and reducing veterans’ dependencies on prescription medications and alcohol. This type of program is necessary to fill a critical gap in service dog availability to the many veterans suffering from the invisible wounds of war. There are many excellent service dog organizations that raise and train dogs for all different clients and needs; alert, seizure, deaf, blind, autism, PTS, etc. But the shortage and costs are real for our veterans. Many programs offer reduced pricing, but they still rely on the veteran to raise the funds alone. A veteran lives and breathes “selfless service”, service to others and not to themselves…..so asking for help, is simply something they will not do. Company 2 Heroes was started because the founders understood the healing power and capabilities of a trained service dog, but became frustrated with the high cost and more than two-year long delays to acquire a service dog placing veterans at increased risk of suicide. Our goal is to restore independence to the lives of our veterans who are suffering in silence, and fight to reduce the nearly 20-22 veteran suicides a day with the 24-7 support a service dog can deliver. Our program never endorses a dog as a solution to mental health challenges or difficulties, but ONLY as a valid aid in recovery – in conjunction with a relevant treatment or care plan. The dogs in our program are not for convenience purposes, they will be trained specifically to meet the needs of an individual veteran. There are two primary requirements for a veteran to have a service dog: (1) the veteran must have a diagnosed disability and (2) the veteran must train a dog that possesses the proper temperament and aptitude for service dog work to alleviate the effects of their disability.
Service Dogs Change Lives
Service Dogs can literally change the life of a Veteran and it is medically proven that having a dog, lowers your blood pressure, increases your activity levels and helps adjust serotonin levels naturally, rather than through medication. Physical, behavioral and emotional symptoms can be helped tremendously by the presence of a well-trained Service Dog. Service Dogs have proven useful for veterans in alleviating feelings of anxiety, panic, fear, irritability, depression, withdrawal, isolation, hyper-vigilance, loss of trust, suspicion, nightmares, flashbacks, paranoia, sleepwalking, suicidal thoughts, anti-social behavior, emotional overload, etc. Service dogs help perform tasks, which helps the handler attain safety and independence that cannot be achieved by any other means. A dog’s bond is special and helps slowly remove those layers of isolation and loneliness, veterans often find themselves in. Working dogs partnered with veterans are not pets. The specialized status of service dogs permits them to accompany their veterans anywhere general members of the public are allowed, including supermarkets, restaurants and places of entertainment. Service dogs must meet minimum standards of behavior to act appropriately in public and possess training to mitigate their veteran’s disability, including:
- Provide a sense of security, calming effects to episodes of depression
- Guide through stressful situations, hyper vigilance, create safe space in crowds
- Assistance in coping with emotional overload, mitigate stress, panic and anxiety
- Perform behavior interruption for nightmares, flashbacks, sleep walking
- Perform specific tasks that mitigate a disability retrieve objects/items
- Alert to startle reflex, blood pressure and other triggers
- Alert for medication and schedule regulation
“The humans have tried everything. Now it is up to us dogs!”
For many Combat Veterans service dogs give them the confidence, the courage and the ability to face the future! If you or a Veteran you know suffers from PTS, TBI or MST related symptoms…CONTACT US at Info@Company2Heroes.org or visit our website at www.Company2Heroes.org and explore the benefits of a life fulfilled with a service dog!