Posted: July 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

Retired Army Maj. James LaCaria said he was afraid to leave his apartment before he got Kaeci, his 5-year-old service dog. LaCaria, 36, from El Paso, Texas, was diagnosed in 2010 with post-traumatic stress disorder after combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had been in and out of inpatient psychiatric treatment facilities before his psychiatrist recommended he get a service dog to help him cope with his anxiety and nightmares. But an Army policy implemented in JAN 2012, critics say, has made it harder for soldiers such as LaCaria who are suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injuries to have specialized psychiatric service dogs on military posts. Matt Kuntz, executive director of the Montana chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, launched an online petition last month calling on Army Secretary John McHugh to revise it. “In our point of view, the need for basic regulation turned into a mountain of red tape,” Kuntz said. The policy was implemented shortly after a 6-year-old boy in Kentucky was fatally mauled by a German shepherd trained to help a soldier at Fort Campbell cope with PTSD. The incident happened away from the post. Before January, service dogs were allowed on Army posts under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Now, service dogs must be provided by groups approved by Assistance Dogs International. ADI does not have chapters in 18 states, making the process of acquiring one in those states more difficult. The new policy also requires service members to get approval of a care plan from their commander. “Our policy is supportive of the use of service animals in treating physical disabilities, as well as PTSD,” said Maria Tolleson, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Medical Command. Kuntz’s petition at calls on the Army to make it clear that soldiers do not need to exhaust all other treatment methods before they can qualify for a service dog, and to ensure that soldiers with service dogs can have living quarters where they can keep their service dogs, and to broaden the definition of an accredited service animal provider beyond ADI. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) last month sent a letter to McHugh urging the Army to change its new policy. Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, surgeon general and commanding general of MEDCOM, responded in a letter that the Army “is committed to providing the highest level of care to all soldiers” but “has no studies underway to determine the efficacy of service dog use in the treatment of traumatic brain injury.” [Source: USA Today article 7 Jun 2012 ++]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s