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Celebrating Veterans Day - Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On Veterans Day, we honor not only our brave men and women in the armed forces, but also their faithful canine working companions.

Over 2,000 dogs currently serve in the U.S. military in a variety of roles, such as explosives detection dogs (including mines and IEDs), specialized search dogs, combat tracker dogs, patrolling and scouting. Many servicemen and women can attest that they are alive today because of the presence of one of these dogs in their units. It is estimated that each dog is responsible for saving the lives of 150-200 service members.

In the past these dogs often did not make it back home after their service was over. That may soon be changing with a bill currently awaiting signature that would mandate that military working dogs be returned to the U.S. at their time of retirement and the servicemen and women who were their handlers will have the first right to adoption.

Already, military dogs are being sent back to the U.S. after their years of service and are finding homes with their former beloved handlers. Dogs from the IED detection program under the U.S. Marine Corps are being reunited with their handlers due to the efforts of K2 Solutions and the U.S. government. Read more about these heart-warming reunions between humans and dogs.

Dogs also can provide important comfort and care to returning veterans. As all of us dog enthusiasts know, dogs can provide emotional support in times of stress. Several organizations, including the American Humane Association, have been active in creating programs to assist returning veterans with PTSD and other conditions such as traumatic brain injury by providing service dogs. These dogs not only provide physical support, such as turning on lights, providing mobility support when walking, picking up items, but also emotional support such as being trained to lean into a person experiencing an anxiety attack. Amy McCullough, the AHA's National Director of Animal Assisted Therapy, states that, "Research has shown {dogs} can provide social support as a coping strategy in dealing with trauma." Another program, Warrior Canine Connection, is involved in a widespread study led by researcher and author Meg Olmert (Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond) and funded by the Department of Defense. The aim of the research is to determine how working with therapy and service dogs can help reduce PTSD and other forms of trauma experienced by veterans. Truly dogs can be live-savers for our veterans both in the field and at home and we honor all of them for their service.


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