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Service Dogs Making Huge Difference In Lives Of Veterans With PTSD

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - A recent study from the Department of Veterans Affairs shows significant benefits from service dogs for veterans with dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Canine Companions for Independence is one of the organizations that participated in the VA study.

"There were reduced thoughts of suicide," said Chelsey Darrow, Canine Companions' Veteran Program Specialist. "There were improved quality of sleep for veterans, a reduction in PTSD symptoms overall."

Rodney Sparks was in the Army for 20 years.

He said the adjustment to civilian life was tough, but he found hope through a service dog named, Novella.

"She's just loveable," he said. Sparks suffers from PTSD, and Novella is trained to help.

"She does nightmare interruptions," Sparks said. "If I'm sleeping and start to kick or move, she'll pull the covers or jump on the bed."

Service dogs are trained in PTSD-mitigating tasks. They're able to turn on lights, help the veterans in public places, and interrupt panic and anxiety attacks.

Because of the positive results of the study, the VA now plans to allow veterans with PTSD and other mental health disorders to be eligible for the VA service dog veterinary insurance benefit.

It also covers the cost of things like travel and equipment.

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