‘There are many living with a disability – but PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) has a special kind of ugliness. The anxiety, stress, recurrent memories and other symptoms are bad enough, but its intensity and persistence saps a person to the point of chronic mental exhaustion and depression that can grind a person down to a feeling of inertia’. This Introduction in a great book gives a good indication of how the contents help to better understand and maximise the benefits of a service dog.
In our Service DogTraining work we have met many veterans suffering from PTSD but note, it is not just Defence forces personnel, all ‘First Responders’ incl Police, Ambulance, SES, Fire Brigade and the list goes on. People who experienced horrific trauma, assault and violence against others, they all have high levels of PTSD.
Whilst every person is an individual and have their own specific needs, there are a few common denominators that would allow a person free of PTSD to help them help themselves. Encourage, do not ask questions, be empathetic, one day all is well, the other we are in a bad space – give them space, and when you make a promise, DELIVER! Most hate paperwork, as it had to be done most of their career; most have issues with enforced hierarchy and they want to be treated like humans!
We have taken every care to ensure plenty of support mechanisms are place in the APP under construction (April 2017), having a dedicated phone number available, working with the team at Integra Service Dogs Australia to not only offer support services to the Soldier On K9Support Programme, but working hand in hand with those supporting the handler with their health. We promote social interaction of like-minded people, as that will be on the only way to get them talking, all in an informal, pleasant, professional and structured environment.
Our accredited service dogs and PTSD handlers see the world differently (most of the time) and whilst we cannot remove the PTSD, we can help to manage it and empower them to travel a pathway of training their own service dog – who is with them 24/7, covers their back, is concerned when they have nightmares – [one even went as far as biting the handler when they tried to self-harm]. Service dogs do not argue, do not reply, all they want is be with you and make sure you are OK. They are and remain great dogs and are not computers or replacement pain medication, but may well allow a reduction in medication over time.
SDT is delighted to work with ISDA & SOLDIER ON K9 SUPPORT to help as many sufferers as we can. Taking on a service dog is a real commitment, 24/7, requires care and that costs. It is not for all, but I cannot recall more than one person over the years we have been empowering people to train their own service dogs that did not continue the programme New friendships, new things, and above all happier and healthier handlers.
If interested, please contact Ben Johnson on 0412 547 889 to join this great ISDA & SOLDIER ON K9 SUPPORT programme. A dedicated APP is in the works to be launched soon.