By Arthur E. Benjamin
As our American heroes return from war, an estimated 20 percent of them have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or both. That’s nearly 400,000 of our young men and women living with these permanently life-altering circumstances. For those of us who have not experienced what these heroes have experienced, we can’t possibly understand what they’re going through.
The good news, however, is we CAN help them live something closer to a “normal” life by supplying them with a “best friend” companion or service animal.
Though there is no known cure for PTSD, countless veterans have reported they are able to live much more functional lives with the assistance of a properly trained, four-legged helper.
But how do we train such an enormous amount of dogs and provide them to veterans in need? An organization that is very close to my heart – paws4people foundation – has the answer to that question. In their paws4prisons program, inmates train dogs that end up with PTSD suffering war vets, as well as severely disabled kids.
Did I mention the “double bonus” in this situation? That would be the dramatically reduced recidivism rates of the prisoners who participate in this wonderful program. While the vast majority of incarcerated people re-offend upon release and end up back in prison, the occurrences of this are nearly nil in prisoners who have participated in paws4prisons.
Paws4people was founded by an amazing young woman named Kyria Henry when she was just 12 years old. Her father Terry, a Vietnam vet and PTSD sufferer, has helped her along the way and is now also highly involved in the organization. These two are remarkably passionate about helping people and helping animals.
The foundation now provides service dogs to 100 people each year through its variety of programs and services. One ultimate goal of the foundation is to share its methods and standards with programs throughout the nation, leading to one enormous network of dogs in need being rescued, prisoners reforming their lives and people getting the service and companion animals they so desperately need. Another goal is to provide service dogs to more than 1,000 people each year.
Won’t you join in and help us? Click here to donate to paws4people via American Dog Rescue. We’ll match a portion of each dollar you donate, leading to an even greater donation to paws4people and the wonderful people and dogs they serve.