The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has partnered with Pet Partners, a non-profit organization, in an effort to improve quality of life, social engagement, and overall health of veterans. Together, this partnership will increase access to animal-assisted activities and animal-assisted therapy services throughout the VA system.
The VA and Pet Partners have a variety of activities that they will perform through this partnership. They will not only train therapy animal teams but will also encourage VA medical facilities to establish and expand trained therapy animal visitation. In addition, they will provide animal-assisted activities and animal-assisted therapy programs to give patients the connection that comes from spending time with animals.
According to the VA, the partnership provides veteran communities volunteer opportunities as well as an opportunity to integrate veterans and their families into Pet Partners’ activities and events.
“Emerging research recognizes the positive effects interactions with animals can have on patients,” Robert Wilkie, VA secretary, said in a statement. “VA’s work with Pet Partners provides unique resources to our veterans, through animal-assisted activities and therapy.”
The agency noted that recent research and studies say that the human-animal bond can lead to lower blood pressure, reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, lessened anxiety, pain, and loneliness. Additionally, therapy animals promote physical and mental health as well as support wellness across social interaction, rate of recovery, and personal motivation. —Julie Gould