Roy Green: Dogs are born to be our best friends, so let them be just that
A story by Brian Hill and Mercedes Stephenson of Global News has been on my mind since it published on Tuesday.
The headline: “Veterans denied service dogs despite government report showing ‘significant’ reduction in PTSD.”
And the first sentence: “Canadian veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are out of luck if they expect the government to help them find a service dog anytime soon.”
My gut turned on reading those words. And it turned some more as the story revealed a government-commissioned report, obtained exclusively by Global News, shows “significant reductions in PTSD symptoms and an overall improvement in the quality of life for veterans matched with service dogs.”
Veterans Affairs Canada has been in possession of the report since the end of July. Yet the ministry tasked with addressing the requirements and needs of Canada’s former military service men and women has said nothing.
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Well, that’s not entirely true. Seamus O’Regan, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, did admit to a doggedly engaged Global News team that he hadn’t yet read the report.
“I’m going to read it now,” assured O’Regan, adding, “As soon as I’ve read it, we will come back as quickly as possible.” When pushed for an answer on when Canadian military veterans struggling with life-numbing post-traumatic stress might expect an answer, O’Reagan returned to, he’d read the report.
The report he’s had available for two months.
WATCH: Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan says he has not yet read report commissioned on PTSD service dogs
Is it the money? The cost for such an animal is approximately $15,000.
However, there’s coin in the VAC piggy bank. O’Regan’s ministry, as was just disclosed by Brian Hill of Global News, is sitting on an unspent but budgeted for $372 million allocated for Canada’s military vets.
Dogs are born as mankind’s best friends. Ever seen a puppy which doesn’t immediately give its heart to the first human who shows affection? Even humans who show no affection are chased by a wagging tail and tiny yips of undisguised love.
I’m sitting with my two best buddies Rocky and Sunny right now. One’s a Bichon and the other a Yorkshire terrier. I’ve spoken and written about The Rowdies previously. They’re the Rowdies when we’re on a walk, a.k.a. squirrel hunt, they’re my caring best pals every other moment of mine and their lives.
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I don’t suffer from PTSD caused by the close-up horror of war.
I do though still miss my wife every minute of every day. It has been three-plus years since her death and each of those days, The Rowdies have made me laugh, listened attentively to what I have to say (“treat” and “park” are favourites), climbed on the couch each evening when I watch the news or some other program which catches my attention. They watch me watching TV.
When I get up, they get up. Sunny, in particular, cocks his head to one side as though he’s trying to figure out what I might be up to next. Frankly, I think he’s got me wired.
So, a word to Seamus O’Regan:
Seamus, it doesn’t take a report to determine a dog will improve the life of a suffering military veteran. It is scurrilous on your part to have, with intent, withheld taxpayer dollars from CAF men and women. It is a bellowing outrage you will even for a day longer deny an emotionally injured Canadian military veteran the confirmation he or she will receive the best possible assistant to reduce crushing trauma — a friend indeed when one is needed most.
If I hadn’t had Rocky and Sunny to give meaning to each day of my life over the past three years, God only knows to what depths I may have sunk.
Damn it, man! Write the cheque.
Roy Green is the host of the Roy Green Show on the Global News Radio network.
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