How Service Animals Can Benefit Veterans with PTSD and Other Disabilities

When we think about the brave men and women who have served in the military, we often fail to understand the challenges they face once they return to civilian life. These challenges are especially pronounced for veterans with disabilities and other disorders, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In this article, we’ll explore the transformative power of service animals for veterans.

How Service Animals Can Benefit Veterans with Disabilities

Service animals are more than mere pets—they play a fundamental role in enhancing the quality of life for individuals dealing with physical and emotional disabilities. For veterans who have experienced the tumultuous effects of war and service, the partnership with a veteran emotional support animal can become a transformative and healing experience.

Emotional Support and PTSD

PTSD is a complex condition that can severely impact a veteran’s life, characterized by anxiety, depression, recurring nightmares, and painful flashbacks. It is here that an emotional support animal can work wonders. The consistent companionship provided by these animals contributes to a sense of stability and safety, helping to mitigate the feelings of anxiety and depression that often accompany PTSD.

But these animals do more than merely offer company. They undergo rigorous, specialized training to recognize and respond to PTSD-related stress symptoms in their handlers. When a veteran is experiencing a flashback or a panic attack, these animals can intervene in various ways—from providing comforting physical contact to creating a distraction or even fetching medication.

Physical Assistance

While the emotional support provided by these animals is invaluable, their role extends beyond that realm, especially for veterans with physical disabilities. Service animals undergo thorough training to perform specific tasks that their handlers may find challenging due to their physical condition.

These tasks can range from simple actions like opening and closing doors, turning light switches on and off, or retrieving dropped items, to more complex ones such as pulling a wheelchair, providing balance and stability, or even alerting someone in case of an emergency.

In addition to these practical skills, service animals also help their handlers navigate social environments more effectively. They often serve as a social bridge, facilitating interaction between veterans and other individuals. This role can be particularly significant for veterans who may otherwise feel isolated due to their disabilities.

In essence, these service animals act as an extension of the veterans themselves, providing them with a renewed sense of autonomy and dignity. With their support, veterans with disabilities can navigate the world with greater confidence, knowing that they have a steadfast companion by their side, ready to assist whenever needed.

Finding The Right Animals for Veterans

Selecting the right service animal is crucial for the veteran’s well-being. It’s not just about the breed or size of the animal, but also about the animal’s temperament and the individual needs of the veteran. There are various organizations that help match veterans with the perfect emotional support animal.

Additional Supportive Measures for Veterans

While service animals can provide tremendous benefits, it’s important to remember that they are just one piece of the puzzle in supporting veterans. Other forms of support include art therapy and programs designed to combat social isolation.

Our article on the role of art therapy in helping veterans heal discusses this unique form of therapy and its benefits. Similarly, understanding and addressing veterans and social isolation is a crucial aspect of holistic veteran care.

The presence of an emotional support animal can make a world of difference for veterans living with PTSD and other disabilities. These animals provide companionship, emotional support, and practical help to their owners. But more importantly, they provide unconditional love and a constant reminder that no veteran should face their battles alone.

Our guide on how to help someone with PTSD, focusing on veterans, can provide additional strategies and tips for supporting our veterans as they navigate their journeys toward healing.


National Veterans Homeless Support seeks to eliminate homelessness among veterans in Central Florida and nationwide. NVHS takes a proactive, intervention-based approach to homelessness by meeting homeless veterans where they are and helping them from there. Through programs like Search and Rescue Outreach, NVHS helps homeless veterans get the supplies they need to survive, connects them with support and resources, and helps them transition off the streets and into temporary or permanent housing. Some of our programs also include art therapy to help veterans heal. If you’re able, consider supporting our mission by donating or signing on as a volunteer