Although post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has become something that is discussed more in the recent years, those who suffer often times face hardships integrating into civilian life. A U.S. Navy veteran was denied access to a restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia with her PTS service dog because the manger claimed she did not “look disabled enough” to require an assistance animal. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) businesses are required to allow people with disabilities to bring their service dogs into all areas where customers are normally permitted. The employees are only able to ask the customer two questions. The first is, if the dog is required because of a disability and the second is, what work or tasks the dog is trained to perform.
Despite the regulations put in place to allow disabled customers to access businesses, veterans are still being denied entry and are subjected to illegal lines of questioning. American Humane created a new survey for retail employees to monitor their knowledge of the laws pertaining to service animals. What they found was that 69% of the population surveyed stated they never received training from their employer on the questions they are legally allowed to ask; 35% suspected at least one customer in the last year of misrepresenting their dog as a service animal. Finally 56% determined the legitimacy of a service dog by a visible disability. This makes those who suffer from PTS more vulnerable to suspicion.
As of right now there are no certification programs for PTS service dogs recognized federally. On September 21st, 2016 American Humane hosted a meeting with service dog trainers, government affairs, veteran advocacy groups, mental health services, and the transportation restaurant industries. They developed an action plan to set the standards for a PTS service dog. The group will establish a standard for service dog credentials that will benefit PTS veterans and customer facing employees. Until that standard is finalized here are a few small things we can do to support our veterans and their service animals. First, show respect for the service dog. This means no petting, rudely staring, or taking pictures. Also, step up and speak out if you witness discrimination against veterans and their service dogs.
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If you or a loved one are dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, you are not alone. If you are a veteran suffering from PTSD is unable to work full time, you may be eligible for veterans disability compensation. If you have questions about your eligibility, we welcome you to contact us for a free consultation.