Not sure who to help and how this Giving Tuesday? Think Veterans!

Photo courtesy of Paws of War - Jose Rios and Hunter

Photo courtesy of Paws of War – Jose Rios and Hunter

Each year, the first Tuesday that follows Black Friday is known as Giving Tuesday. The event follows a weekend of shoppers out getting bargains and being stuck in spending mode. Giving Tuesday is a day that reminds people to help others through gifts, time, donations, goods, and by using your voice. This year, Paws or War is asking people to rise to the challenge of helping them to help our military veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

“Many people don’t know who to help or how to do it,” explains Robert Misseri, co-founder of Paws of War. “You can never go wrong helping our veterans. They have conditions from their service that greatly impacts their life. We make it our mission to try and be there for them, helping them to live a more comfortable and enjoyable life.”

Paws of War is a non-profit organization that has a mission of matching these veterans with the trained service dogs that they need and that can help them through these tough times. The organization rescues most of the dogs from shelters and provides them with the intensive service dog training that they need in order to help the veterans they are paired up with. The veterans receive a service dog in training at no expense to them. Not only are people helping the veteran, but they are also helping to rescue a dog, when they support the charity.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), PTSD can stem from traumatic incidents. Those who have PTSD may have long term feelings of upsetting memories, feelings of being on the edge, sleep problems, be irritable, avoidance, and they may no longer engage in activities they once enjoyed. The condition makes it difficult for those with it to have jobs and often simply function in life as they once did. Those with PTSD may also have depression, substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders as well. TBI, according to the NIH, is often caused from blast waves from explosions that rattles the brain inside the skull. They report that around 31 percent of Vietnam veterans have PTSD, as do 10 percent of Gulf War veterans, 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan, and 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans.

“We are asking that people give to Paws of War on this Giving Tuesday,” explained Misseri. “When they give to us they will help our mission of helping veterans in need by getting them trained service dogs. They will also be helping to support our mobile RV veterinary clinic that provides free care to veteran’s dogs.”

Two-time Iraq war veteran Jose Rios is one of the veterans who needs the help of the Paws of War program. He served 22 years in the U.S. Navy and received many commendations and medals. During his deployment, he was stationed where the worst terrorists are kept. Due to his service overseas, he suffered from physical and mental harm. Upon returning from his duty in Iraq he contacted Paws of War so he could learn more about the program and how they can help.

“When I came back from Iraq, there were limited options for treating my PTSD,” said Rios.  “A friend of mine told me that I should get a dog and my doctor recommended Paws of War. Now I have Hunter, my golden retriever, and looking forward to the future together with him. Being accepted into the Paws of War family has changed my life already. I would not be able to do this alone, I am truly grateful beyond words to Paws of War.”

A 2018 study out of Purdue University reports that veterans with PTSD may benefit physiologically from using service dogs. In fact, they found that there may be significant scientific evidence of potential mental health benefits experienced by veterans with PTSD who have service dogs.

While those who offer donations on Giving Tuesday will be doing a lot to help veterans and support the Paws of War mission, they will also benefit themselves. The Cleveland Clinic reports that studies find that that those who give get a mental and physical health boost. They report that giving is associated with lower blood pressure, increased self esteem, less depression, lower stress levels, longer life, and greater happiness. Considering it’s a win-win for everyone when we give, it only makes sense that it should be a high priority.

In addition to training service dogs and providing them to veterans in need, Paws of War recently launched a new mobile RV veterinary clinic. Called “Vets for Vets,” the program uses a custom-designed RV that has been outfitted to be a mobile veterinary clinic. It will be on the move, providing care to many veterans’ pets. The mobile clinic will help those veterans who are in need, by providing their pets with annual vaccinations, dental care, allergy care, grooming, microchipping, minor surgeries, and more.

Paws of War is an all-volunteer organization that provides assistance to military members and their pets and provides service and service dogs to veterans suffering from PTSD. To learn more about Paws of War or make a Giving Tuesday donation to support their efforts, visit their site at: http://pawsofwar.org. For those who would like to sponsor Rios and Hunter and make a donation, please visit: Paws of War Sponsor Jose Rios and Hunter.

Photo courtesy of Paws of War.

Photo courtesy of Paws of War.

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