Emotional Support Animals

Republicans Introduce Bill to Get Puppies for Veterans

Currently – an emotional support animal is a companion animal which provides therapeutic benefit, such as alleviating some symptoms of the disability, (Such as PTSD.) Emotional support animals are typically dogs, but may include other animals. A person with a verifiable disability can be prescribed an emotional support animal by a physician or medical professional, and will be afforded protection under the United States federal law.

These are the legal aspects of emotional support animals. But, from the personal aspects of the veterans who have known life with an emotional support animal, it has often been a life saver.

My son, a marine wounded in Iraq eleven years ago, has had an emotional support dog, Rocco, from the time he was released from the hospital, and assigned to a house on base with his wife, at Fort Sam Houston Army Base in San Antonio, TX.

Rocco died a few weeks ago. When Aaron called, it was to let me know a member of our family had gone. We had seen Rocco aging, but still, we were not prepared to let him go…

As we talked about how Rocco had been with Aaron through so much of his life, we were amazed at how that marine dog had been there to help Aaron through some pretty tough times, as well as the good. Unconditional love between those two was evident to all.

The companionship of a dog can make the difference in a veterans decision to keep moving forward. Rocco had been with Aaron through years of surgeries, the birth of his two children, a devastating divorce, and the challenges of becoming a single parent. His 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son never knew a time in their lives when Rocco wasn’t with them.

Rocco was with Aaron when nobody else was around, the silent times, the hardest times. He was there when Aaron struggled with the emotional and physical pain from injuries sustained during his service in Iraq. Rocco was there when he was filled with joy and pride as he brought his daughter, then his son, home from the hospital. And he was there through the devastating dissolution of his marriage shortly after the birth of his son.

Rocco stood with him as they watched over those two children when Aaron took on the full-time job of being a single parent. At Christmas time there was always a stocking hanging on the mantle for Rocco too. He was there as Aaron’s children grew and went off to school each morning. And sat at attention next to him, as they stood in the front yard watching for them to appear around the corner on their way back home. Both greeting them as if they had been gone for years and had crossed the Sahara desert to reach their destination.

This marine dog has earned his stripes, and a salute for a job well done. This world needs more Rocco’s to stand by the side of our warriors. I ask that you support legislation in your states, as well as at the federal levels, to recognize and support the importance of the need for these special companions to our heroes.

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Rocco, you will be missed…

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