PTSD, Veterans and VA Funding Service Dogs Go together like Cats and Dogs

mental illness curriculum

The Weight of PTSD

I have PTSD.  The nightmares, flashbacks and the feeling in the pit of my stomach makes the trips down memory lane unbearable.  Sometimes it feels like it is starting all over again.  I can only image the pain and suffering a war veteran would feel.  The pain must be crushing.

Service Dogs Loyalty

The love and loyalty given by a service dog to his master is second to none.  Knowing what information I know about PTSD from my own experiences and the friendship with my own two dogs, Jake and Sam, I find a dog very comforting, supportive and loving when you are experiencing mental stress. Also, service dogs are often used to help people with mobility issues, hearing and visual impairments as well as physical difficulties.


Service Dog

With service dogs, you have a four-legged therapist with you 24/7.  Petting the dog and grooming him or her, taking a walk with your service dog and having the service dog next to you in a crowded store can soothe your nerves and help you pull it back together.


There is research on the effectiveness a service dog has on people with PTSD.  The evidence shows that a service dog can help the veteran ease back into civilian life and help create a calming atmosphere when in a stressful or hostile environment.

On the flip side of the coin, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a policy in place where it does not make funding available for former military personnel with PTSD to own service dogs. They believe that not enough research has yet been conducted to justify such a program. However, the agency helps veterans keep service dogs if they have visual, hearing or mobility problems, but not for PTSD.


What do you think?  Do you think the VA should fund the service dog program for veterans with PTSD?  Do you have a mental illness or disability and have your own service dog?  Tell us about it.

Going Further




  1. Gordon Meyer

    They will sign the paperwork for an Emotional Support Dog, but they will not allow them at the VA…. Yes, I have PTSD… in a huge way… Spike, my dog, has been a gift from above.

    My mental health provider at the VA signed a letter saying …’prescribing an emotional support dog to assist with limitations caused by stress and anxiety’… I had him with me 2 or 3 times but the last time I was there, a security guard asked about him since he did not have a vest on. Being about 1 1/2 pound chihuahua, finding a vest for him is not possible. I told him the VA person that signed the letter, that I showed him, was the person I was there to see. I was then told that I could not have him with me in the future since he was a ‘therapy dog’ not a ‘service dog’…
    I asked my VA to help me with this and they told me they would not and can not help. Not even telling me where to start for the training… NOTHING…

    So now, I have to figure out when a family member can go with me to my appointments at the VA, which is next to impossible due to needing someone to take almost a whole day off due to the closest VA clinic (not hospital) is over an hour drive from me.

    It is sad that the VA will sign such a letter but will not accept the dog in the clinic… I am more than upset and I am also unsure what to do now for health care since my ability to see the ONLY people I can afford are not accepting of my dog that they said I need…

    1. Amy (Post author)

      I am so sorry you are going through this. Stay strong and stay involved as much as you can in the decision-making process at the VA. You have a very strong story, I feel, and you just need to get it before the right person.

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