A dog poses with the documentary, To Be of Service.

Today is Veteran’s Day, so I thought it would be appropriate to talk about the 2019 documentary, To Be of Service. War takes its toll on the soldiers that see combat, and many of the soldiers who come home are not whole.

This can be an obvious injury like a lost limb, but many times the wounds are invisible, but just as crippling. PTSD is one invisible scar that often leaves combat veterans unable to leave their homes, interact with their families, or enjoy past hobbies.

To Be of Service focuses on service dogs who are specially trained to help people suffering with PTSD. These dogs are more effective than most medications and can give those who suffer with PTSD back their lives.

How Dogs Help

The documentary follows the story of 11 different veterans. Some of them got service dogs before the documentary started, some got their dogs during the course of the documentary.

It’s evident throughout the documentary what a huge difference these dogs make, but there’s a crucial problem with them. A service dog can cost as much as $30,000. Yet if a veteran thinks a service dog will help them, they must pay out of pocket or wait in line for a charity to purchase a dog for them.

Unless a veteran is very wealthy, they can often be priced out of ownership, despite all the benefits.

Bringing Change

To Be of Service showcases how service dogs help veterans with PTSD, as well as the problem of how much they cost.

Thanks to this documentary, a new law was passed that allows the VA to pay for PTSD service dogs. It’s a 5-year pilot program to help the Department of Veteran Affairs determine the best way to use service dogs going forward.

The pilot program will be available in 5 VA medical centers. We can only hope it will expand if this is successful.

The Movie Itself

I personally thought the whole documentary was interesting, if sometimes difficult to watch. It’s always hard to see people suffering, and it’s very clear these people are. I do feel, however, that the documentary could have had a little more structure to help guide the viewer.

The documentary simply introduces us to various veterans, their dogs, or where they are in getting a dog. It shows the benefits, but only mentions the costs at the end. It also barely mentions the opportunity for change.

I think the documentary could have been stronger if the costs and the potential for change had been foreshadowed a little more throughout the film.

All in all, it was a good film. It clearly did the job (the law was passed after all) but there’s always opportunity for growth.

I got a copy of this documentary from my local library. If it’s not available at yours, Amazon Prime allows you to rent or buy it. (Ad)

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By Andrea

Andrea is a dedicated dog mom of three chihuahuas. She has over a decade of experience as a dog groomer, chihuahua owner, and more recently as a dog trainer. She loves all things canine, particularly chihuahuas.

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