On Wednesday 9th December Forces Reunited, our sister website that aims to help serving and ex-servicemen find lost friends in the fast-moving world of the Forces, handed a cheque for £6,000 over to the charity Veterans With Dogs. This will cover the cost of purchasing, training and assigning an assistance dog for an Armed Forces Veteran registered with the charity. The money was passed to Craig and Chrissie MacLellan, the founders of Veterans with Dogs, at a ceremony outside the charity’s headquarters in Newton Abbot.
Proud to be supporting such a worthy cause
Forces Reunited chose to partner with Veterans With Dogs in November 2015, initially making contact via the Forces Reunited social pages; the charity’s Channel 4 News coverage video captured exactly how valuable these dogs are to veterans suffering ‘invisible injuries’ such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Forces Reunited wanted to get involved in some way. The website is now very proud to be a sponsor of this very worthy cause.
Commenting on the donation, charity founder, Craig MacLellan, said, “We are delighted that Forces Reunited has added us to the roster of charities that they already support.
“Since setting up the charity in 2012, we have been able to help about 60 ex-servicemen and women but our waiting list is growing longer by the day. This generous donation means that we can help improve the quality of life of yet another veteran by providing them with their own assistance dog.”
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a hugely misunderstood and debilitating condition. It forces those who have lived through traumatic events to relive those events over and over, until they become defensive and fearful in everyday situations, and begin to have difficulties relating to those around them. For more on the condition, here’s a good summary by Combat Stress.
What Veterans with Dogs aims to do, in their own words, is “To improve quality of life for Veterans through the companionship of dogs by providing training, education and support services, including, but not limited to, Assistance Dogs, companion animals and pets.”
So, what can a dog really do to help those with ‘invisible injuries’? Well, Assistance Dogs can help ex-servicemen or women suffering terrifying recollections and dreams, and ground them in the here-and-now by licking, leaning or jumping up to divert their attention back to the present. Unlike drugs, the love of a dog has no potential side effects, and unlike a therapist, the dog can be there all day, every day. Since the dog is there to provide help and companionship, the pressure is taken off friends and family members, helping to normalise and balance those relationships too. The dogs can also remind owners to take medication or wake up on time, and help to create a physical barrier in crowds, to make them feel safer.
Forces Reunited’s puppy is due to be born sometime in January 2016, and we can’t wait to bring you photographs, updates and news of its progress once it begins training in March. There will also be a chance to suggest a suitable name. Watch this space!