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How Veterans Can Get a Service Dog

Many veterans re-enter civilian life with some form of disability. Whether it is PTSD-related or physical impairment, there are lots of things that affect a veteran’s ability to find work, live their life, or regain a sense of normality. However, these things are essential for well-being and general quality of life, so that is why things like service dogs exist to make it that much easier to move forward and heal. Veterans seeking a service dog have to follow the official steps and protocol to keep things legal and fully functional, and this is how to get the job done.


Why Do Service Dogs Exist?

Service dogs exist to make life easier for people who really need it. They are special breeds that are trained expertly to facilitate daily activities like getting from A to B or supporting general confidence in getting out and about. They are wonderful companions and people who need one come to rely on them greatly.


Why Would a Veteran Need a Service Dog?

So, why veterans? Service dogs exist for a range of people with a variety of disabilities and veterans feature heavily in this list. From vision impairments to mobility issues, there are hundreds of injuries that can be sustained in combat. When they leave the military service, these issues don’t just go away. They are a part of life, and service dogs are one of the best ways to make that life more convenient and support better healing trajectories too. Karns & Karns Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys are one of the leading law firms that support veterans and service dog.


What is the Process?

For any veteran looking to find a service dog, certain steps have to be observed. Going through the official channels is important because there are lots of unofficial companies out there claiming to provide this type of dog that isn’t up to the official standard. This leaves the veteran at risk of being let down or even led into danger if the dog hasn’t been trained properly and sufficiently. So, how does it all work?


Meeting With the VA

The VA is the US Department for Veteran Affairs. It was created to support veterans once they return to civilian life and has all sorts of departments within to ensure the correct level of input for whoever may need it. The first step in securing a service dog is to arrange a meeting with a member of this department to discuss the reasons and any specific requirements that may be on the table. This meeting will establish the needs of the veteran in question and ascertain the validity of the disability claim. For anyone looking for this service, there has to be a documented disability to be successful. The Health Provider through the VA will look at all the facts, and make a decision based on medical records, history, and any other witness data that is accredited and significant.


Alternative Approach

If the veteran wishes to move outside of the VA and act as a civilian instead, they can meet with an alternate provider. The main point will be to establish the disability in question and whether or not it is suitable for a service like this. These dogs are specially trained, after all, and exist for a specific purpose so if there is a clear need, there should be absolutely no issue when it comes to acquiring one.


Choosing a Provider

While the VA cannot directly provide a service animal, it has a long list of official charities and organizations that can. This can also be accessed through the alternate route, and either will be fine in securing a helping paw. Once a provider has been selected, the application can move forward. Certain criteria have to be met to make the dog official such as meeting a high training standard, and ensuring that training is suited to the disability in question.


Doing the Training Yourself

Sometimes, it is possible to gain approval for a service dog that a veteran can train. While this is less common, it does happen and is an option if it is wished to be taken. To become a fully licensed service dog, the animal does have to go through the official training demands and these have to be verified every step of the way. This option allows for more flexibility when it comes to breed and temperament and even opens up the door for the possibility of a veteran using their own beloved pet as a service dog.


The Next Steps

Once the animal has been properly trained and steps into active service, there are a few benefits that come with this. Any service dog is entitled to subsidiary and even complementary healthcare to ensure that they are medically fit and able for the duration of their job. These benefits include helpful things like emergency care should the need arise, immunizations and other health-focused vaccination schemes, equipment and safety products like harnesses, and other general health things related to the role. It is important to know that things like grooming are not covered under this benefit scheme because that is not linked in any way to the task at hand.


What Can These Dogs Be Trained to Do?

Before you decide whether a service dog is the right path for you, it is helpful to know what they can provide support with. A service dog can help with a range of conditions as listed above. They enable an owner to find independence in their new life and build confidence that has otherwise been misplaced. These relationships are some of the most special, and it is not hard to see why veterans are well suited to schemes such as this.

Veterans can get a service dog by moving through the official channels and proving the reasons why they would want one. These animals are highly valuable to anyone with a life-changing disability.

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