Many have learned the benefits of emotional support animals, and veterans all over are beginning to appreciate the rewarding bond birds can provide. A program known as Parrots for Patriots pairs veterans with abandoned birds in an effort to provide support for all kinds of mental health issues common among those returning from service.
Today reports about the program that is giving a lot of veterans in the Northwest a bit of peace, routine and a sense of responsibility that is often difficult to achieve when suffering from issues like post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD. According to a study cited by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, male Vietnam veterans alone have a lifetime prevalence of PTSD in almost 31% of those who served and female veterans from this war have a 26.9% incident rate.
Founder of the Parrots for Patriots program, Chris Driggins, explains how bird ownership helps provide many veterans with a sense of purpose and how this animal specifically helps with a lot of mental health issues. He says, “With PTSD or any other type of mental disorder, your life is a little confused. Birds demand normalcy, and certain birds are very needy. They help you fall into a pattern — get up at this time, give me a treat at this time, give me TLC. Then you find yourself in a normal routine again. You don’t have those restless nights where you’re up all night worrying, because the bird has exhausted you. And if you do get up in the middle of the night, the bird will understand. There are so many things that birds can do for you that no other animal can.”
And since many birds have longer lifespans than most other domesticated pets, veterans can usually count on having a partner for life. Some types of parrots, for example have an average lifespan of around 80 years. Driggins says, “The birds outlive the humans is what it boils down to.” Veteran Paul Thomas who served in the Air Force from 1999 - 2003 turned to dogs for companionship, but soon realized why birds were a better pet for him. He says, “I got tired of burying my dogs. (For veterans), that loss can be hard. It brings up a lot of things.”
Are you a bird lover? What do you think of the Parrots for Patriots program?
Do you think birds can provide good emotional support for veterans suffering mental disorders like PTSD?