Many veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan bring back with them the stress of war. In many cases, the enemy has been everywhere.
“Watch my 6” is a must for soldiers where team members work together and keep watch in all directions (6 being behind them). Loud noises cause them to drop to the ground as a defensive measure. They work under high stress – the next bullet could be theirs. They bring the stress and reactions with them when they return and move into civilian life.
The Lynnwood Rotary Club received firsthand information when a 10-year veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq shared how his dog, “Smokey” had allowed him to resume a nearly normal life with his wife and three children.
Before he got the Service Dog, he was a recluse and unable to play with his kids. He didn’t go out. Now he is able to go out with his wife and his kids. He is no longer a recluse. Among other things, Smokey walks behind him and nudges him to warn him if someone comes up behind him. Before Smokey, a friend had once come up behind him and put his hand on the veteran’s shoulder, and was decked by the vet. A wartime reaction. There are many things service dogs can do. There is a special large button that they can put their paw on to call 911. The dog doesn’t speak (bark) to the operator but the line is specially marked so help will be dispatched immediately.
Lynnwood Rotary has been supporting the Brigadoon Service Dogs in northern Snohomish County for the last three years. Last month Lynnwood Rotary presented Brigadoon Service Dogs with a check for $2,000. Brigadoon provides service dogs free of charge to veterans who have been medically certified by a private doctor. The VA does not financially support service dogs except for veterans who have lost a leg or are otherwise physically injured.
If you want to help returning veterans, you can send a donation made out to the Lynnwood Rotary Community Foundation, 21215 Highway 99, Lynnwood, WA 98037 marked for Wounded Veterans.