Southeastern Guide Dogs Help to Mitigate the Symptoms of PTSD for Veterans

The Giving Coast

Photo of Bob Macpherson and Blue, courtesy of Southeastern Guide Dogs

Serving our country requires honor, selflessness and courage. Sometimes it takes even more courage to ask for help. As the nation honors these heroes this Veterans Day (Thursday, November 11), Southeastern Guide Dogs recognizes and supports those who served in our nation’s military all year long through the help of service dogs. 

The organization notes that veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other disabilities often live in isolation and depression. But, there's a furry, four-legged fix to that for many. A highly trained service dog can assist in the healing journey of restoring one’s mental health and wellbeing. 

These dogs become more like heroes, much like their owners, by learning more than 20 cues to aid with symptoms of PTSD—including seizure response and mobility issues. "Handpicked for their confidence and calmness," Southeastern Guide Dogs' canines, when partnered with the right individual, help veterans take back their lives by replacing despair with hope, unconditional love and that "battle buddy" they may be missing in their world. "The power of positivity is crucial while recovering. The assistance of a happy and loving companion helps in that growth," says Lauren Davis, manager of the Service Dog Program. "Our dogs help our veterans learn how to change their thought processes to focus on the good rather than the bad.” 

Bob Macpherson is one of these veterans, they share. After 30 years in the Marines, and a career as the head of a humanitarian assistance company working in countries from Bosnia to Syria, Macpherson now lives with the reality of PTSD. After admitting he needed help, Macpherson applied for a service dog through the organization and was matched with Blue, the yellow lab. “PTSD is a soul-crushing illness, dragging its victims into nightmarish voids of shame, fear and chaos,” shares Macpherson. “Blue has guided me back to a path of renewed engagement in life and calmness that has made me a better person. With him, I found the freedom and creativity to embrace life rather than endure it.”

Blue is one of many service dogs to help mitigate the symptoms of PTSD for their handler. In addition to service dogs, Southeastern Guide Dogs provides Gold Star Family dogs to military families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty, and facility therapy dogs who provide therapeutic services to veterans and families being treated in military medical facilities and working in high-stress environments across the nation. 

All dogs and services at Southeastern Guide Dogs are provided at no cost to recipients thanks to an extensive network of donors. For more information on the veteran programs, visit GuideDogs.org

Photo of Bob Macpherson and Blue, courtesy of Southeastern Guide Dogs

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