The embedded videos below are emotional reunions of deployed soldiers and their dogs. This article’s image uses a photo of Petty Officer 1st Class Jon T. Tumilson’s dog, Hawkeye. Images of Tumilson’s funeral went viral and touched a chord. I can imagine that for a dog outliving their master is very traumatic. PTSD suffering veterans swear by comfort dog programs for combat stress. Even where studies are not conclusive it seems nonsensical to doubt their claims.
In September the Veteran Affairs office suspended research on a comfort dog for PTSD veteran program because of complaints against the vendor. The Atlantic reports that the VA shutdown the research “…over concerns for the health of the dogs.” Veteran’s should have access to comfort dog programs but not at the expense of the canines. I imagine that healthy dogs can be of more assistance than unhealthy dogs.
As a veteran, I find myself wondering what happens to these dogs. The video and picture made me emotional but being the owner of an emotional beagle I find myself needing to wind him down. It’s not healthy for him to sustain prolonged emotional states. The suspension of the VA’s comfort dog program might be a blessing in disguise because the health of the dogs cannot be offered at the altar of government vendor markets.
I am not proposing that there should not be comfort dog programs but simply that their needs to be over-site. The outrage over Michael Vic’s dog-fighting debacle suggests that most Americans feel the same way.