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Defense Health Agency Kicks Off Dog Days of Summer, Showcases Dogs Who Support Overall Health

Image of Defense Health Agency Kicks Off Dog Days of Summer, Showcases Dogs Who Support Overall Health. Brooke Army Medical Center facility dog U.S. Army Maj. Budd interacts with soldiers being in-processed in Aug. 2022. Facility dogs are being given honorary commissions or are enlisted in a service as a mark of respect for their value in comforting personnel in need and increasing morale and mental health. (Photo: Jennifer Higgins, special assistant for healthcare resolutions BMAC)

This week, the Defense Health Agency is celebrating facility dogs assigned to military hospitals across the nation for its “Dog Days of Summer” campaign July 24-28.

DHA will spotlight stories of hard-working dogs dedicated to keeping service members, their families, and hospital staff healthy and happy.

Military hospital facility dogs fulfill many services daily. They provide comfort and a wet nose to patients and wounded warriors recovering from surgery and boost morale among hospital staff. Whether by land, sea, or air, these dogs are always at the ready.

Facility dogs work hard every day at their assigned military hospital, clinic or elsewhere to provide comfort to people they encounter while making their rounds.

Military working dogs keep their handlers and battle buddies safe from bombs and enemies on the frontlines and across the seven seas.

Service dogs help veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, was the first military hospital to employ facility dogs. They’ve now been around nearly two decades.

MWDs have been used in action since the Civil War. The use of emotional support dogs for veterans has expanded greatly since the first Gulf War.

Explaining the many abilities of military dogs and their true gifts is WRNMMC facility dog program manager Amy O’Connor, who offered this quote: “God said I need somebody strong enough to pull sleds and find bombs, yet gentle enough to love babies and lead the blind. Somebody who will spend hours in a hospital bed with a resting head and supportive eyes to lift the spirits of a broken heart. So, God made dog.”

If you’d like to find out more about the value of military dogs, follow us in July as we highlight their amazing abilities.

Resources

Here’s a select sampling of the many resources about military dogs you can find across health.mil and social media:

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Nov 28, 2023

DHA Policy Memo: #23-014, Military Medical Treatment Facility Management of Self-Initiated Referral Process for Mental Health Evaluations of Service Members

.PDF | 176.30 KB
Provides information and guidance on military medical treatment facility procedures for a process that enables Service members to trigger a referral on their own for a mental health evaluation through a commanding officer or supervisor in a grade above E-5.
  • Identification #: 23-014
  • Type: DHA Policy Memo
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Last Updated: September 28, 2023
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