Man's best friend plays a valuable role in helping veterans return to civilian life. These specially trained service dogs are able to help veterans cope with the challenges stemming from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complete every day tasks for amputees, and most importantly, provide loving companionship when it's needed most.
Marine veteran Kelsie Owen stands with her service dog Nola before a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Companions for Life Training Academy, a Veterans Service Dog Training Program & Facility, at the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter in Harahan, La., Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. Veterans will learn to train service dogs and to teach other military veterans suffering from PTSD, brain injury or other medical problems how to train their own pets to meet their medical or psychological needs. They will be among the first participants in the program to teach veterans, including those who’ve never worked with canines, to train their own service dogs: animals coming from shelters.
Brad "Casper" Vande Hei is licked by his service dog, Zeus, after competing in rowing during the Valor Games, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in Durham, N.C. Vande Hei served in the U.S. Marine Corps for more than 12 years. Valor Games is an adapted sports competition for mentally and physically disabled veterans and members of the armed forces.
Andrew Pike, a veteran of the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne who was shot and paralyzed during the Iraq war, sits with his new service dog 'Yazmin' while training at the Canine Companions for Independence training center November 20, 2009 in Santa Rosa, California. Pike, 23, was instantly paralyzed in 2007 when he was shot by sniper fire while on patrol in Iraq. Confined to a wheelchair and seeking more independence, Pike learned about Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit that matches service dogs with disabled people that need assistance. The organization has trained more than 3,200 dogs for disabled children and adults and has matched dogs with 44 wounded military veterans.
Knoxville the assistance dog sits next his handler, disabled Army veteran Stefan LeRoy, during a news conference about Canine Companion assistance dogs, on April 21, 2016 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Canine Companion has placed almost 5,000 assistance dogs through the program since 1975.
Service dogs take part in a race in the pool with their Invictus competitor handlers on the final day of the Invictus Games Orlando 2016 at ESPN Wide World of Sports on May 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Prince Harry, patron of the Invictus Games Foundation is in Orlando for the Invictus Games 2016. The Invictus Games is the only International sporting event for wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women. Started in 2014 by Prince Harry the Invictus Games uses the power of Sport to inspire recovery and support rehabilitation.
Army veteran Brad Schwarz drives his service dog Panzer to be seen for a check-up at a veterinary clinic May 3, 2012 in Palos Hills, Illinois. Schwarz uses Panzer to help him cope with issues related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he has experienced since returning from a 2008 tour in Iraq. In addition to suffering from PTSD Schwarz has memory loss related to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and he must walk with a cane because of vertebrae and nerve damage in his back and legs. Ten days before he was scheduled to rotate home from a 15-month deployment in Iraq, his second, the Humvee in which he was riding was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Of the 5 soldiers riding in the vehicle, which caught fire after the explosion, Schwarz was the only one to survive.
In this Sept. 8, 2015 photo, Michelle Baker, left, hugs Nicole Shumate, right, who trained and placed Wade Baker's PTSD service dog Honor, outside Baker's home in Clyde, N.C. As executive director of Paws & Effect, Shumate has spent nearly a decade training dogs for service with disabled children and combat veterans.
War veterans and their service dogs are honored on the field at Fenway Park before a Red Sox game against the Baltimore Orioles, on June 14, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. Operation Delta Dog gives service dogs to veterans with TBI's or PTSD. The dogs are shelter rescues trained for each vet's needs.
Bosar works on being able to place items into a washing machine during his training in the Canines For Service program at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, S.C., 2014.