A Salute to Veterans and the Dogs Who Love Them
This Veterans Day, it is with great honor that Southeastern Guide Dogs salutes the courageous Americans who serve for freedom’s sake.
Since 1982, our school has provided guide dogs at no cost, and many veterans have been among those who have been matched with our guides. In 2006, we formally introduced our veterans’ programs, broadening our scope to include service dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other disabilities. Since then our veterans’ programs have expanded and today we offer five categories of dogs specifically for veterans: guide dogs, service dogs, facility therapy dogs, emotional support dogs, and Gold Star Family dogs. Each dog not only performs specific tasks or functions, but each brings joy and companionship that can’t be measured.
Here’s a brief description of the difference between the types of dogs we provide to veterans, and here’s a salute to our veterans and the dogs who love them.
Our guide dogs offer independence and freedom to visually impaired veterans, restoring confidence and dignity. Veterans live and learn on campus for 20 days with help from their new companions. Gone are tentative steps and white canes, replaced by heads held high and brisk paces.
Our service dogs help veterans heal from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other disabilities such as seizure alert, mobility assistance, and more. With unconditional love and loyalty, service dogs respond to commands that help restore stability and wellbeing. After our 11-day class, veterans report powerful stories of reconnecting with family and society once again.
Facility Therapy Dogs
When wounded warriors are far from home, there’s comfort in the paws of a friendly dog. Facility therapy dogs live with facility staff and work at military hospitals, clinics, and high-stress environments around the country. Clinicians report beneficial effects as our dogs ease fears, deliver calm, and take the focus off of medicine and memories. Each facility therapy dog is hand-delivered by our staff to the new handler and facility. We currently have facility therapy dogs at the following military stations: Walter Reed/Bethesda; West Palm Beach VA; Quantico; Camp LeJuene; Joint Base Andrews; MacDill Air Force Base; and the 144th Fighter Wing Psychological Health Program in California.
Emotional Support Dogs
Our emotional support dogs warm the heart and soothe the soul for veterans with debilitating issues. Veterans improve their physical, social, and emotional wellbeing as the dogs provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and help mitigate chronic stress, anxiety, depression, or other limitations. Each emotional support dog is hand-delivered by our staff to the veteran’s home.
Gold Star Family Dogs
Recognizing the sacrifices made when a family member dies in service to the nation, Southeastern Guide Dogs offers well behaved, loving companion dogs to Gold Star families in need. Each Gold Star Family dog is hand-delivered by our staff to the family.