Palm Health Foundation is proud to have the FAU Brain Institute as a partner in our work to advance brain health in Palm Beach County. The foundation is a two-time sponsor Brainy Days, a celebration of neuroscience presented by the Institute and featuring researchers at the top of their fields.
The foundation has also held a longstanding relationship with FAU’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, as we have traditionally supported and uplifted the nursing profession in our community. The FAU Brain Institute has an obvious connection to brain health, but you might not know about the important brain health work happening at the college of nursing. Read about the incredible program that is saving the lives of U.S. military veterans, written by Cheryl A. Krause-Parello, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, founder and director of C-P.A.W.W.:
Every day, about 20 military veterans in the United States die by suicide — more than those lost daily in combat. Veterans account for 18% of all suicide deaths in America. The veteran population in the U.S. is approximately 20.4 million and is expected to surge in the next five years with another 1 million active and reserve members of the U.S. armed forces returning to civilian life. Many of these veterans develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and struggle reintegrating into life’s daily routine.
To address this widespread issue we created “Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors®” (C-P.A.W.W.®), to investigate how to reduce the risk factors for suicide and focus on biological and psycho-social stress indicators in the military veteran population. C-P.A.W.W. is housed in Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and is expanding the college’s efforts to investigate protective factors for suicide in the military veteran population and improve the understanding of the palliative effects of animal-assisted interventions.
C-P.A.W.W. provides rigorous empirical evidence demonstrating the lifesaving impact canines may have on the under served veteran population. Research from this initiative has demonstrated that active duty military and veterans are showing stress reduction when interacting with a canine such as a service dog, therapy dog, or companion dog.
The work we are conducting through C-P.A.W.W. is addressing the lack of vital information regarding the healing capacities of the human-animal interaction in military veterans. Service dogs are specially trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities, enabling them to live independently. They can be trained to sense a veteran’s anxiety and can serve as a calming influence through deep pressure therapy. Many veterans with a service dog positively reintegrate into civilian life and reestablish a sense of independence.
Training a service dog can take up to two years and cost up to $30,000. However, service dogs often are not considered a reimbursable medical expense for veterans with invisible wounds such as PTSD and many of them go without the assistance they need. One of my prospective goals is to provide the evidence to support changes in public policy so that service dogs will be covered as a reimbursable medical expense for those recovering from a service connected condition such as PTSD.
Our prior work demonstrated that pet attachment mediated the effects of loneliness and promoted well-being. Over the past several years, we have expanded our research and have begun examining the relationship between human-animal interaction and stress biomarkers in vulnerable populations, including military veterans and children of alleged sexual abuse. The long-term goal of this research is to implement effective interventions to modulate the long-term effects of PTSD on returning active duty military and veterans and to identify additional populations where this intervention will be effective.
Our troops have already sacrificed so much. Now is the time to give back and make sure our veterans have the best restorative care to allow them to thrive at home, and we are doing just that with C-P.A.W.W.
Help C-P.A.W.W. Help Our Nations Heroes Donate Now at https://fauf.fau.edu/cpaww/.
Contributed by: Cheryl A. Krause-Parello, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, founder and director of C-P.A.W.W., professor, Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, and a fellow of FAU’s Human Health and Disease Intervention (I-HEALTH)