Veterans from recent conflicts have expanded the role of service dogs. While many Americans still identify “service dogs” as “guide dogs” for the visually impaired, “service” now extends into many other dimensions. A 2009 Wall Street Journal article traces the recent evolution of service dogs to becoming “seeing eye dogs for the mind” in aiding the emotional transition to civilian life. This past August, the VA officially amended its policy to allow all service dogs to accompany Veterans to appointments.

CNN recently highlighted one of the Veterans service dog programs: K9s for Warriors. After realizing that her son could benefit from a service dog companion, Shari Duval established a non-profit to ensure matching and training. Her son Brett Simon Duval, who worked with explosive-tracking dogs in Iraq, now serves as the organization’s Director of K9 Operations.

An indication of the effectiveness of the program is a letter of gratitude, written by “Linda,” a female veteran to JJ, her service dog. In it she says, “I stand taller today…because you stand alongside me, ready to hear my cries, or hear my laughter.” This bond, of course, between humans and dogs is not new. But the careful selection of the right dog for the right Veteran marks an innovative approach to enabling a successful emotional transition.

I can vouch for the importance of this innovation as can my Labradoodle (Kobbe), who even helps me keep balanced work hours by reminding me when it’s time to go home.

For more information, please visit the K9s for Warriors website or search Veterans service dogs in your favorite search engine.

If you’d like to be a part of more innovative solutions for Veterans, please consider a career with us, Join VA.

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Published on Dec. 28, 2015

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  1. Woody Moser January 1, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    According to the Department of Justice website there is no such thing as a “certified service dog”. There is no such thing as that because a service dog has a unique training to each individual person. There is not anywhere that certifies a Service dog as anyone can train their own Service dog. The dogs do not have to have a vest or any kind of paper work. I suggest you read the law before putting untrue guide lines for a service dog. I have to teach all most everyone in South Carolina about that. Some listen and the others I file complaints with the DOJ on, and the DOJ handles it. I just got done going over a incidient at Toys R Us that made them get their policy changed because the store manager said my dog was not a Service dog. Every public place can not set their own policy up that is not the same as what the DOJ has established, or they could be found not in compliance with the Federal Law.

  2. Dennis Wilson December 28, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    I am one of the Vets that entered the program in Salt Lake with K 9’s with a cause. I had gotten a dog off a local classifieds and because my health deteriorating I decided to see if I could get in the program and was excepted and started training in Oct. I can’t believe everything that I have been training my dog and what he will help me with in time. He is one of a kind and shows a willing drive to help me when I train him. The people are great and explain everything they do and they are right. I can’t Thank K 9’s with a cause enough for all they do. I just wish I had a large donation I could give them. But instead I help other Vets by putting add-on’s to theirs wheelchairs and scooters. I have been asked to also help out local Senior Citizen Center with their mobility devices. I really believe in this program and try and encourage others to join the program.

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