Unfortunately, many veterans return home from active duty with physical challenges and disabilities. For these wounded veterans, the road to recovery often is difficult and long. With the help of their friends and family, they make progress and return to civilian life as normally as possible. Another resource that is helping enrich the lives of many of America’s wounded heroes are service dogs. Wounded veterans find that service dogs give them the support they need to get on with their lives at home.

More often than not, all costs associated with training and caring for a service dog are covered by service dog organizations and their donors. Some organizations also cover transportation for veterans who have financial difficulty but are in need of receiving training with a service dog program. If you are a wounded veteran or friend or family member of a wounded veteran, do not hesitate to begin the process of getting a service dog. There are several nonprofit organizations and programs that understand the importance of matching wounded veterans with service dogs and work to ensure that all veterans in need of a service dog receive one.

Training Programs

There are several organizations around the country providing service dogs to wounded veterans. In many cases, these organizations require training for veterans before matching them with service dogs. Training helps veterans know how to care for their service animals and understand the differences between service dogs and traditional pets. These training sessions also help the organizations match the veterans with their ideal service dogs and put veterans’ families at ease knowing that the veterans are completely prepared to handle and care for a service dog. In return, the veteran gets maximum help and support from a service dog because of the training program.

If veterans and their families need help caring for the service dog in the event of a medical setback, there are freelance dog boarders who will care for the service dog in their own homes and give him the attention and care he deserves until his family is able to take him back home.

Improved Quality of Life

Some service dog organizations understand that wounded veterans need service dogs in order to improve their quality of life. That’s why these organizations work to place dogs with wounded veterans without much effort on the veterans’ part; they also work to raise enough funds so that the veterans are not responsible for any fees or costs associated with securing and keeping their service dogs.

Of course, each wounded veteran has a different set of needs when returning to civilian life with a physical disability. Service dogs can perform a large number of tasks to make daily life more manageable for these veterans, including providing emotional support, completing balance work, helping pull veterans out of wheelchairs, turning lights off and on, opening household doors, pushing buttons to open doors in public, retrieving items, paying cashiers, carrying items in backpacks, and more.

Easing into Public

For some wounded veterans, making the transition to civilian life is difficult because they are self-conscious about their injuries or physical limitations. In these cases, service dogs are helpful because they provide emotional support for the wounded veteran. Service dogs also give veterans a sense of purpose because they know they need to care for their animals, including taking them for walks and ensuring they get plenty of exercise. Going to a dog park, socializing with other wounded veterans and their service dogs, and speaking to local groups, organizations, and schools about the service dogs and their organizations are activities that help wounded veterans ease into public. The best part is their service dogs are by their sides the entire time.

Veterans with physical disabilities certainly can benefit from the aid and support of a service dog. From providing companionship to helping veterans with daily mobility, service dogs improve the quality of life for a wounded veteran.