Senator promotes PTSD service dogs for veterans in N.B.
Sen. Carolyn Stewart Olsen wants veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder to have access to dogs
A New Brunswick senator wants to see veterans in the province who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder have access to service dogs.
"In my former life I was an emergency nurse, I know what PTSD is," said Sen. Carolyn Stewart Olsen.
On Monday, Olsen invited some veterans and their dogs to a school in Port Elgin to show students how service dogs can help improve the lives of people with PTSD.
Education is key, she said.
"Children should learn that this is something they can deal with and there are people to help and I think the dogs. I know at the ceremony we had, [there were] stats that said all of those vets who had dogs, had no attempted suicide."
Cpl. John Langevin, who was diagnosed with PTSD in 2006 after doing tours in Afghanistan, says his dog, named Hank the Tank, changed his life.
"I used to get caught up in going to work and sitting around the house and procrastination and putting things off, being a little depressed. He gets me out of that, he gets me up, he gets me moving, he gets me doing stuff," said Langevin, who now works in military intelligence.
"For someone suffering from post-traumatic stress, like I said, everybody's different, but that dog might be the reason they get to the airport and get on that plane, or go do their grocery shopping on their own, be out in public, so it's a real thing," he said.
The dogs free the person to live a normal life.- Cpl. John Langevin
"Otherwise, they might be a shut-in and become a recluse. The dogs free the person to live a normal life."
Brooklyn O'Brien, a student at Port Elgin Regional School, says she didn't realize that dogs could help soldiers.
"I understand really good right now, they need things to help them to forget what they saw," she said following the demonstration.
Olsen says she's committed to helping New Brunswick soldiers better manage the effects of PTSD.
She hopes to one day see PTSD service dogs available to every veteran across Canada who needs one.