Reintegration efforts may go to the service dogs as agency seeks input
One possible solution is to use service dogs for assistance and support. The government wants to hear from animal assistance providers as to whether service dogs would be effective in helping post-9/11 veterans who return to the workforce.
Reintegrating into civilian life and employment can be complicated by experiences veterans have endured. Exposure to war zones can result in post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, leading to:
- Reexperiencing stressors such as distracting intrusive thoughts and images or disturbing nightmares.
- Hyper-arousal such as intense startle response, poor concentration and memory, a constant feeling of being on-guard, disturbed sleep, and high irritability.
- Avoidance of people, places, and things associated with war zones such as enclosed areas, crowds, loud noises, and certain sights and smells.
"Such symptoms can have a significant impact on the ability of a veteran to work in a setting with features such as other people, enclosed work areas, constant movement and noise, tasks that require concentration to details or safety issues, and stress related to requests and feedback of supervisors or task speed and accuracy," according to a proposal seeking public comments for a research study. "An approach for helping veterans with PTSD and other psychiatric impairments is that of using service dogs for assistance and support."
However, there is almost no research on the use of service dogs to help veterans readjust to employment. The proposed research study would seek input from about 1,000 assistance dog providers to increase available information about the services they've provided to veterans.
The results will lead to recommendations and guidance for researchers, health care professionals, and others pertaining to "interventions to help facilitate the reintegration and reemployment of Veterans," the proposal states. It is "part of a larger project that will identify priorities and new opportunities for research, as well as address policy implications associated with public access rights afforded to service dogs by the Americans with Disabilities Act."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 11, 2012
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