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Michael G. Sheppard

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PTSD

4 Common Myths About Veterans

Although there are 22 million veterans in the United States and two holidays dedicated to those who have served, there are still a few myths associated with veterans. Below you can find the most popular of those myths and why they are far from the truth.

Myth #1: Every Veteran has PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a pressing issue within the veteran community. While serving the country, many servicemen and servicewomen will witness death and violence up close. Sometimes witnessing these experiences can lead to PTSD. However, not every person who has served will return home with PTSD. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD affects 31% of Vietnam veterans, 10% of Gulf War veterans, 11% of veterans from the war in Afganistan, and 20% of veterans from the Iraqi war.

Basing your knowledge on these statistics, don’t assume that every veteran is suffering from PTSD. Unless a veteran directly shares that information with you, assume otherwise.

Myth #2: Veterans who have PTSD are violent.

Although not every veteran will have PTSD, there are those who suffer from the disorder. A common association with PTSD is that it makes people violent and irrational. Less than 8% of PTSD patients have violent outbursts. Typically people with PTSD experience a number of problems including, depression, anxiety, drinking or drug problems, relationship problems, or physical symptoms like chronic pain.

Myth #3: There are barely any female veterans.

Women have been working alongside men on the battlefield since the Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, and the Spanish War. Back then women typically served as nurses or cooks, unless they dressed as men to secretly fight on the field.

By the end of WWI, women were officially allowed to serve in the military as spies, nurses, or in other supportive roles. After WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, more opportunities for women were created.

By the mid-70s women were able to enroll in service academies like Westpoint and by the 90s women were flying on combat missions and being deployed to the Persian Gulf.

Needless to say, women have been fighting alongside men for several decades. In the United States (including Puerto Rico and Foreign Terrorities) you can find almost 2 million female veterans.

Myth #4: Veterans get hired easily after returning home.

Transitioning from service life to civilian life can be challenging. When veterans begin their job search after serving, they often find that the skills they used in combat don’t easily transition to a typical 9 to 5. Employers may also be apprehensive about hiring a veteran due to upcoming deployments or stereotypes surrounding veterans.


Originally published at michaelgsheppard.net on December 31, 2018.

How Service Dogs Can Help Veterans with PTSD

As veterans return home from war, many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some veterans can experience flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, or depression. While therapy can be beneficial in addressing some of these symptoms, some veterans don’t have access to therapy or won’t admit that they need help. One way that veterans can better cope with PTSD is with a service dog.

Researchers have recognized that there are therapeutic benefits in getting a service dog. In a study conducted by Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine, it was discovered that PTSD symptoms were lower in veterans who had service dogs. Pet owners across the world will agree that their furry friends have helped in boosting their mood, but for veterans, the benefits of pet ownership go beyond just happiness.

Service dogs encourage their owner to be more active.

As any dog owner knows, dogs love their walks. Because of a dog’s need to exercise it helps to encourage veterans to get out of the house. Depression and anxiety, two possible symptoms of PTSD, can cause veterans to want to stay inside and closed off from the world. A service dog gives an excuse for a veteran to leave the house and become more active.

Service dogs help their owner feel more protected.

From nightmares to panic attacks, PTSD can make a veteran feel vulnerable and scared. Service dogs can help their owners feel comforted and soothed in the event of a sudden anxiety episode. Service dogs are often trained to recognize the symptoms of an anxiety attack and help their owner before things get too out of control.

Service dogs help to rebuild trust.

PTSD has the ability to affect the relationships that veterans have with their loved ones. Often trust is hard to give after experiencing the terrors of war. This often causes veterans to be more reclusive. Dogs, as loyal as they are, can help veterans realize they aren’t alone. After opening and trusting their furry friend, veterans can begin to trust those around them.

Service dogs help with the transition to civilian life.

While service dogs help to provide companionship and love to veterans, they are also trained in helping complete everyday tasks. If veterans return home with injuries, it can be difficult to go back to the life they led before. Service dogs can complete numerous tasks from carrying objects to turning lights on and off, to opening doors.


Originally published at michaelgsheppard.net on January 2, 2019.

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