When our military men and women go to war to fight for our country, they don’t expect to come back with severe emotional and physical scars that prevent them from living without fear, flashbacks and depression. But many of our veterans do return and are faced with battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). To raise awareness and give hope to vets, a new A&E series Dogs of War brings shelter dogs and veterans with PTSD together and chronicles the healing power of the military man and woman’s best friend.
Photo credit: A&E
Dogs of War was inspired by Jim Stanek, a now-retired U.S. Army staff sergeant who served three tours in Iraq, and his wife Lindsey, who together started the nonprofit organization Paws and Stripes which provides service dogs to wounded military veterans. The Staneks have long had a heart for rescue dogs and decided to give them a chance at a new life by training them to be service dogs for vets.
“We’ve always been passionate about dogs,” says Lindsey. “But when Jim returned from war, we saw a real opportunity for shelter dogs to be part of the healing process for vets with PTSD.” Jim knows PTSD all too well. “When I came back, I didn’t socialize and isolated myself without even realizing it and I had trouble giving and receiving love,” he explains. “Lindsey knew that starting Paws and Stripes would not only benefit me in healing but also help other vets who were in need.”
Dogs and veterans are a powerful team
Photo credit: A&E
In Dogs of War, veterans are paired with adopted shelter dogs that are trained in rehabilitation. Each episode will follow one or two veterans with PTSD and chronicle their daily struggles, which are raw and often dark, and how their dog is key in their recovery. “We tip our hats to the veterans who want to be part of this because PTSD is painful for them and everyone in their life,” says Jim. “But it’s so great to see the healing that shelter dogs provide and that they give our veterans hope.” The A&E docu-series will bring to light the debilitating effects of PTSD on vets and their families as well as the life-saving journey to health that they experience with their therapy dog.
Dogs of War premieres on A&E on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2014 at 10 p.m. ET.