Featured Image Credit: Fox 13 Tampa Bay
By Emily Persico
When soldiers return from war, everything is different. Veterans are so much stronger for having endured the war, but they are also wounded and, in some ways, weaker. And their wounds aren’t just physical.
According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, anywhere from 11 to 20 percent of veterans have PTSD. Veterans with PTSD are usually encouraged to go to psychotherapy or, in some cases, prescribed antidepressants. But the Dolphin Research Center is pulling on the knowledge that dates back a thousand years to encourage healing in these veterans with animals.
The Center in Florida welcomed veterans and their family members to go on a free swim with trained dolphins after a soldier cycling event that rode from Key Largo to Key West. While the veterans shared high-fives, dolphin kisses and flipper shakes, civilians in the background raised their mini American Flags and cheered. It has become a true community event.
From dolphins to dogs, animals soothe worries, thaw out emotional numbness, develop a person’s ability to communicate healthily and promotes bonding. Just after splashing around with the dolphins, US Veteran James Smith gives his perspective.
“The dolphins are really funny,” he says. “They’re a lot like people.”
In addition to being one of the most highly respected education and research facilities in the world, DRC is the Licensed Manatee Rescue Team for the Florida Keys and is an accredited member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums!