If you are wondering why more police officers in Minneapolis are sporting moustaches this month, some shifts on the Minneapolis Police Department are raising money for Soldier’s 6. Soldier’s 6 is a Minnesota non-profit organization that provides Veterans and police officers who suffer from service-related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with service dogs. For people suffering from PTSD, service dogs give them more than comfort, they may save their lives. Soldier’s 6 chose its name because the service dog is the Veteran or officer’s battle buddy who has their “6” or back. PTSD service dogs may be trained to wake a veteran or police officer from a nightmare, remind them to take medication, physically interrupt a panic attack, and relieve stress and anxiety that escalate PTSD symptoms. Check out www.soldiers6.com to make donations and support this important organization.
At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we’ve represented many police officers, firefighters, and first responders who suffer from PTSD as a result of their public service. We’ve also had clients who have been able to work with service dogs who have helped them cope with the symptoms and daily effects of PTSD. These amazing service animals can help increase chemicals in the brain that may help to stop some of the problems associated with PTSD. Service dogs are known to help adjust serotonin levels, some of the chemicals associated with depression or anxiety. The dogs can also help lower blood pressure as well.
Many people with PTSD suffer from extreme anxiety in crowds. The dogs may be trained to help the police officer, firefighter, or first responder to navigate crowds and help assuage their anxiety. The dogs can also help create physical space by preventing people from crowding too close to the individual. People with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder also frequently suffer from hypervigilance and trouble sleeping. The service dogs may be trained to help combat nightmares by waking up the individual when he or she starts to physically struggle and toss and turn in his or her sleep. People who have service dogs report that they feel safer at night knowing that the dog was keeping watch and would wake at a small sound.
Unfortunately, in Minnesota the law under the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act is unclear as to whether service dogs would be covered by workers’ comp. PTSD is a new area of law in Minnesota as of 2013. The legislature has recognized that even with the advent of PTSD as a compensable injury, firefighters, police officers, and first responders are still struggling to get their claims accepted by the insurer. As such, new legislature is being drafted to create a presumption of an injury in certain cases. Hopefully, with new studies being conducted to examine the relationship between service dogs and Veterans with PTSD, the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act will eventually help fund access to a service dog to first responders who suffer from PTSD in the line of duty. Until that time, police officers, firefighters, and first responders must turn to organizations such as Soldier’s 6 to assist. Training these incredible dogs takes time, dedication, skills, and funds.
If you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD developed in the line of duty as a police officer, firefighter, or a first responder contact the attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free, no-obligation consultation. We will evaluate your case and explain any possible claims and rights to PERA Duty Disability, MSRS Duty Disability, healthcare continuation under Minnesota Statute §299A.465. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.