Naval Medical Center San Diego Facility Dog, Murphy

Facility Dogs can perform custom cues and behaviors that allow for their professional handlers to effectively utilize them during animal assisted therapy.

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Veterans’ advocates believe that between 10 and 20 percent of veterans returning home from deployment display some level of Traumatic Brain Injury. The V.A. also estimates that nearly 20% of deployed service members suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The visible and invisible wounds of war are tremendous and TLCAD recognizes the overwhelming need to assist our service members and veterans, both on an individual and community basis.

Therefore, in addition to placing custom-trained murphykimService Dogs with Wounded Warriors, we also place Facility Dogs. These highly specialized dogs are paired with professionals that provide medical treatment or therapy for service members and veterans, and also touch the lives of Wounded Warriors in outpatient clinics and military hospitals by assisting them to reach their therapeutic and rehabilitation goals. TLCAD is thorough in the placement process, ensuring that Facility Dogs can perform custom cues and behaviors that allow for their professional handlers to effectively utilize them during animal assisted therapy.

Facility Dog Murphy was placed with physical therapist Kim Gottshall in the C5 Physical Therapy Vestibular Unit at Naval Medical Center San Diego. Murphy works with Kim to assist patients with traumatic brain injuries and
mobility impairments in meeting their rehabilitation goals as well as helps to increase their motivation and ease their anxiety. Murphy works with up to 20 patients a week and the positive impact he has on the lives of service members is profound.20140926_SD_TLCAD_KimGottshall_Murphy_025.jpg

“Murphy is a constant source of help and enjoyment in my therapy sessions. He assists me with standing when I am unsteady and lays with me during mat exercises. Hi is very reliable, calm, and helpful in each of my appointments. Difficult exercises become a breeze with Murphy to take my mind off the pain and a great motivator to complete them so I can go back to petting him! I always look forward to attending therapy to work with Murphy and believe himto be a great asset to the Vestibular Physical Therapy program.” -NMCSD patient

 

Always by My Side- Jessie and Jag update

By performing cues that help mitigate his symptoms of PTSD, Jag assists Jesse to live a more independent life, benefiting not only Jesse, but also his entire family.

“Give thanks for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be
tomorrow”

a motto that resonates strongly with retired USMC JJag2Sergeant Jesse James. Jesse received his At Ease Service Dog, Jag, in 2012, around the time he was medically disciharged from the Marine Corps. Jesse suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Jesse’s symptoms of PTSD included hyper vigilance in crowded places, which inhibited him from going into public as well as sleep problems, which affected his overall well being. By performing cues that help mitigate his symptoms of PTSD, Jag assists Jesse to live a more independent life, benefiting not only Jesse, but also his entire family. When asked about the role Jag plays in his life today, Jesse states

“Jag is always by my side and looking out for me. We’ve grown so close together and the way se moves alerts me if someone is near the house or if someone is coming up. JJag1I do’t think I could sleep at all without knowing she is right there and able to alert me if something happens. She always looks out for me and knows when I need her.”

Jag continues to play an important role in Jesse’s healing journey, helping him to create the future he is fighting for.

 

On Capital Hill

Capital HillTLCAD At Ease Service Dog recipient Retired Major NC USAF Linda Stanley has turned her experience with PTSD into her mission to help her fellow service members. Linda served over 20 years in the military – – six years in the Army and 14 years in the Air Force as a nurse. Linda deployed in 2006 with 32nd Medical Group to Balad, Iraq, where she was a trauma nurse and provided medical care to many severely injured service members. Linda explains that the medical part of her deployment was the highlight of her career. It was the human side of war, the pain, the grief, and the loss she saw in the faces of troops that bothered her most. Her symptoms of PTSD started with trouble sleeping and nightmares, and escalated to anxiety and hypervigilance that affected all aspects of her life. She felt alone and disconnected from the world.

It took time but Linda eventually sought help. After several tries to find the right therapist, Linda found someone who had also been deployed and that she could relate to, as she had also “been there”. Even after going through intense therapy, Linda still did not feel at ease in public.

“I felt alone, sad, and often felt unsafe.” states Linda, “I was at a combat women’s retreat and saw a fellow veteran with a dog. That dog made me feel good and I wondered if a service dog could help me.”

Linda pursued TLCAD’s At Ease Service Dog Program, and received her Service Dog, Willow, in 2011. Willow was custom-trained and placed with Linda to perform specific behaviors that help to mitigate her symptoms of PTSD.

“Willow helps me with my sleep by being right by me. She helps with my hypervigilance, my jumpiness. She often alerts me to other people before I know it. She smells when people are coming to my house. She comes close when I am triggered. She helped me get out and socialize. People often approach and ask about her.”

DegreeSince 2011, Willow has been by Linda’s side, accompanying her to school as she completed her Master’s Degree in Nursing as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner.

Linda now works with veterans as a psychiatric mental health nurse and is an active member of the Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). She and Willow have attended IAVA’s Storm the Hill campaign in Washington D.C. in an effort to increase legislation to support veterans and address the epidemic of veterans committing suicide. As a champion for veterans with PTSD, Linda notes that challenges facing our veterans include finding a job, getting into the appropriate type of therapy, and support from friends and family.

“The re-integration time is especially difficult. Many are young and find it challenging to fit in again in society after they have seen so much in combat.”

She stresses that access to trauma informed trained staff and normalizing many of the symptoms of PTSD to help decrease the stigma are key to improving the treatment of our veterans. By sharing her own story and journey with PTSD, she educates military nurses, residents, doctors, generals and members of Congress about the invisible wounds of war, providing them with information that helps to create more understanding, empathy and better treatment for veterans. Degree

“I need people who are taking care of veterans with this condition to understand and have empathy for what’s going on in their heads. If they understand it better, they’ll take better care of them.”

To learn more about her journey.