(CBS Local)– Post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the biggest issues veterans around the country are facing today.
While going to therapy and medication has been effective for some veterans, other veterans have seen their lives transformed by service dogs. New York based filmmaker Josh Aronson explored the relationship between service dogs and veterans in his new documentary “To Be Of Service.” Aronson went around the country to talk with veterans like New Yorker Greg Kolodziejczyk about what their lives were like before and after they received a service dog.
“I learned that many veterans around the country were reporting that the VA was not doing enough,” said Aronson in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “There are thousands of VA’s and a lot of them are not doing a great job. We interviewed over 50 people for the documentary and many said they were over-medicated by the VA.”
“The biggest problem with having PTSD is the isolation we put ourselves through,” said Kolodziejczyk. “We withdraw from society and withdraw from our families. I was totally isolated and I wouldn’t go to the VA. At certain points towards the end when it was getting worse, I would only leave my house for a day or two. Once I got my dog, he needed to be walked and right away I was out of the house more. A new schedule came about and I was out for about a half an hour two to three times a day. Now we’re up to about two hours a day and I’m the community and engaging with people and my social network expanded.”
The documentary will be running at the Cinema Village in New York from November 1-November 7. Both Aronson and Kolodziejczyk hope the film can help people understand what veterans go through every single day when they battle PTSD.
“What was most surprising was how fast the change was in all the vets that got a dog,” said Aronson. “A couple of my vets like Greg were shut-ins and never went out and dealing with the public was too traumatic. The one vet was like a different person. Greg has suffered with a lot of trauma from his service and I feel for him very much. When he got with Val, within a month there was real change. Val got him to interact with people. His service dog led him back into the world of human beings.”
“PTSD survivors hate to explain themselves over and over again,” said Kolodziejczyk. “I now have someone to communicate to them in a very small manner. It was a big deal for me to see the film. The real people expressing themselves with the same feelings and emotions. You feel it and see it in the other people. You’re hopeful for yourself and you know it’s possible and can be done. They are getting a life worth living again and they are not suffering as much.”