Just over five years ago, I lost my step-brother to a suicide that was induced by a post traumatic stress injury he received while serving in Iraq. Since that time period, the Army has come a long way in treating their soldiers; but they've recently introduced a new policy that really needs to change.
A number of soldiers across the Army have begun using psychiatric service dogs (Service Dog) to help them cope with the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injury. These dogs can be powerful tools in helping pull the soldiers out of flashback, terrifying nightmares, etc. For some soldiers access to their Service Dogs may be the difference between life and death by suicide.
Unfortunately, the Army has created a new policy that will limit severely injured soldiers ability to access these potentially life-saving dogs. While it is understandable for the military to want to ensure that only severely injured soldiers utilize Service Dogs and that the Service Dogs are properly trained, the new policy goes too far and will make it more difficult or even impossible for injured soldiers to access this potentially lifesaving care.
The Army's Service Dog policy should be revised to: (1) make it clear that soldiers do not need to exhaust all other treatment methods before they can qualify for a service dog, (2) ensure that soldiers with service dogs can have living quarters where they can bring their service dogs, and (3) broaden the definition of an accredited service animal provider beyond Assistance Dogs International, because Assistance Dogs International doesn’t have certifying organizations near every Army base.
Here is a link to the Army-wide policy. Here is another link to an even more restrictive service dog policy from Fort Bliss.
Please join this petition to cut the red tape preventing soldiers from accessing this critical care.