Every year 60,000 people attend the annual National Shooting Sports Foundation SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Many of those people are veterans and when I was there last week, I noticed a number of service dogs also in attendance at the show.
As Leah has extensively documented through her writing, dogs not only play an essential role in military operations overseas, they are crucial in helping veterans at home recovering from PTSD and other issues after returning from combat. In fact, A&E just launched a new reality series about man's best friend called "Dogs of War."
Canines aren't a cure for PTSD, of course, but Sarge and other service dogs can be trained to help veterans suffering from anxiety, depression, flashbacks, and night terrors. However, it's the emotional support and unconditional love the furry companions provide that's perhaps the greatest way they help veterans move on with their lives.
"We as individuals, we take a lot of things for granted." Jim explained. "Whether it’s going out to dinner, going to a baseball game with your kids, [or] getting involved with the family ... it’s very difficult for a veteran dealing with PTSD and a brain injury to partake in that stuff because we want to isolate, we don’t want to socialize."
"[But] now you’ve got your battle buddy with you, your service dog that gets to run with you everywhere you go," he continued, "and get you back in and live the life you deserve to live."
Here are some of the buddies I ran into at the SHOT Show last week.
1. This is "Wilson the PTSD saver." He was pretty tired near the end of the week, after all, there were 12.5 miles of aisles to walk through.
2. This St. Bernard can tell when his owner is about to have a seizure and lets him know ahead of time so he can take the necessary precautions.
3. This guy is a "helping paws" service dog.
4. This helpful canine is part of the Warrior Dog Foundation.
One of the best parts of SHOT Show is seeing and meeting veterans. We thank them for their service.