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Lawmakers and veterans advocacy groups are ready for change after waiting nearly a decade for the Department of Veterans Affairs to change its policy on not reimbursing service dogs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers, or PAWS, Act would require the VA to offer $25,000 vouchers to veterans suffering with PTSD for use at qualifying nonprofits. Currently, the VA only supports service dogs for use in mobility issues, not in cases that only involve mental health conditions.
You can't see Bobby Grey's scars.
On the surface, he's just an ordinary 35-year-old husband. FedEx driver. Racing fan. Philadelphia Eagles diehard. Dog owner.
He's also a former Marine, 2003 to 2007 — a mission that has given him great pride and great anguish. Twelve years later — anguish or not — he still loves the Corps to the core. Semper Fi — always faithful.
Grey acknowledges, though, that that's where the scars originated.
As a young devil dog, a PFC scarcely six months out of boot camp, Grey deployed to Iraq and got his first taste of combat when he was only 20 years old. One day, Marines in his convoy — guys he knew — died when a roadside bomb blew up beneath them. On another day, during a firefight with Iraqi insurgents, bullets whizzed over Grey's head, close enough that he could hear them. Seconds later, when the bullets shattered the windows behind him, a shower of glass rained down on his head.
But those days were nothing compared to Dec. 3, 2004, the day a suicide bomber rocked his unit's base with an explosion so violent that it literally blew him out of the chow hall where he'd been dining. He suffered a concussion and a mild traumatic brain injury — as if anything traumatic could be mild — but several comrades fared worse, suffering broken bones and dislocated hips. Two of his buddies died in the blast, and Grey had to put them in body bags himself.
"It's like losing a brother," he says softly. "No, it is losing a brother."
The United States Postal Service has just issued a "Healing PTSD" semipostal stamp that will raise money to be distributed to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for the National Center for PTSD.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
The "suck it up and drive on" mentality permeated our years in the U.S. military and often led us to delay getting both physical and mental health care. As veterans, we now understand that engaging in effective care enables us not just to survive but to thrive. Crucially, the path to mental wellness, like any serious journey, isn't accomplished in a day — and just because you need additional or recurring mental health care doesn't mean your initial treatment failed.
(Reuters Health) - Young adults who develop PTSD may be more likely to have a stroke by the time they are middle aged, a study of U.S. veterans suggests.
Researchers followed almost one million young and middle-aged veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a decade, starting when they were 30 years old, on average, and had no history of stroke. Overall, 29% had been diagnosed with PTSD.
The brainchild of a Macalester College graduate to help his father overcome combat-related nightmares has turned into a promising — but still experimental — medical app that is being tested by the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.
Called NightWare, the app is loaded onto an Apple watch, where it learns to track the pulse rates and biometric readings of wearers when they have nightmares. Once trained, the app instructs the watch to buzz lightly, rousing sleepers from their nightmares without fully waking them.