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On Veterans Day, Let’s Recommit to Healing Invisible Wounds of War With the Help of a Wagging Tail


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Real Clear Defense

As Americans observe Veterans Day this year, it’s important to be mindful of the challenges facing former military members. The wounds of war—both seen and unseen—should be top of mind. Beyond simply recognizing the struggles, we should also recommit ourselves to doing something about it. And for returning military heroes facing the invisible scars of battle—notably Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury—a valuable medicine is often four legs and a wagging tail. 

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, seven percent of former U.S. service members experience Post-Traumatic Stress at some point in their lives. Alarmingly, that figure balloons to up to nearly one-third of veterans who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Combat isn’t the only cause. The condition can arise from other service-related trauma, including training accidents, military sexual trauma, and natural disasters. 

Left unaddressed, these types of mental health conditions can lead to the unthinkable. In a particularly sobering fact, more veterans have died from suicide than from combat since September 11, 2001. In the face of this alarming crisis, service dogs have emerged as a beacon of hope. 

We’re no strangers to the value that dogs can provide on the battlefield. The military deploys hundreds of pups to theaters of war to detect bombs, help in search and rescue operations, and track enemy combatants.:snip:

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