VA Organization

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Helping Those That Have Served
Through Companionship

One of the most important missions at Bella’s Buddies is to offer support for long-term careveterans’ homes. Amanda, whose father served several tours in Vietnam, started Bella’sBuddies as a means of helping veterans who struggle to reintegrate into civilian society afterserving our nation.

In fact, Bella herself was trained for Vietnam Veteran Rod Kelly. Realizing

that there are a number of service dog organizations and trainers in the U.S., she began to think

about the impact that Animal Assisted Therapy might have on veterans who are residents in

nursing homes. Many Vietnam veterans are entering the sunsets of their lives, and for decades,

their post-traumatic stress was undiagnosed and untreated. Many of these veterans came home

from the war to an ungrateful nation, and yet they were trapped in Southeast Asia. They

alienated themselves from their families or were separated from them, choosing to live alone. As

they age, however, many in this generation suffer the double curse of PTSD and some form of

dementia. One way or another, they find themselves once again thrust into a structured

environment they don’t understand, forced to leave their isolation, their pets and their

independence. Through partnerships with the states of Texas and Mississippi, Bella’s Buddies is

working to place a permanent canine helper in each veterans home. Some dogs live there full

time while others go home in the evenings with their primary handlers.

Throughout the day, the dogs move inside the home from one resident to another, offering companionship, a soft paw

and even a toothy smile. Bella’s Buddies teaches the dogs how to maneuver around hospital

equipment such as iv lines, wheelchairs and scooters. Some dogs help in the physical therapy

lab, providing motivation and a reason to “get moving”. Covid-19 has changed much about our

world, and one of the toughest circumstances for many long term care veterans and their

families has been the separation they have had to endure. In 2020, while lawmakers and

leaders were debating whether family members should be able to visit their loved ones, Bella’s

Buddies were already inside the homes making connections with residents, reassuring them

that they were not alone. When no one else can understand; when no one will listen, there is a

four-legged partner standing by. Bella’s Buddies has dedicated itself as an organization to

ensuring that staff, residents and family members feel validated, valued and victorious every

single day.

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