It should be a non issue that soldiers who are injured mentally or physically during their time with the army be given all of the tools that they need in order to live their life to the best of their ability. But if one of those tools happens to be a Service Dog then they can expect harassment from senior officers to try an get them to do things to get dishonorably discharged loosing their medical and other benefits and a lengthy process to obtain clearance to get a dog which includes a review board and the need to be prescribed a service dog by an Army Doctor as a civilian doctor no longer counts.
Apparently the Army can make it own rules about personnel keeping service dogs on base and since earlier this year it is no longer a given that they can do so. The dog must perform at least 3 specific tasks for the soldier the other “more conventional” therapies do not help. The soldier must only look to a service dog as a last resort – after drugs, Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychotherapy have failed. They also must only obtain a dog through an Assistance Dogs International (ADI) accredited facility as no other accreditation is allowed any longer what this means is that for soldiers living and working (transitioning from their injury) in any of the 18 States without an ADI accredited organization they must seek dogs from other facilities far from where they live. Many of which already have a long wait list. While it is important that the dog can perform the tasks the soldier needs them to perform and have gone through a minimum amount of training they could also help facilitate an extra week or two of training for the soldiers and their dogs to make sure that they are a good match and the dog can perform the tasks necessary. Or even have a training program on some bases where the injured soldiers and those in need of the service dogs help to train them for their own use and the use of other soldiers.
For now the harassment goes beyond snide remarks about the soldiers weaknesses to accusing them of lying about the injuries. It goes beyond high ranking officers harassing soldiers who use their service dog 24/7 because they bring them into the office with them. In fact there was a recent report of another soldier deliberately kicking a service dog in the head as they walked by. Instead of harassing the sick, injured, or traumatized soldiers by making them wait up to a year before they can leave service after their injury has been documented why not let them leave if they clearly can’t fight any longer and are treated with disrespect. Why not let them get back to civilian life or perform jobs on base that are normally given to civilians so they don’t have to be in contact with officers that no longer feel they have any use. Something that is currently making these injured soldiers more depressed and in need of even more help.