‘To Be of Service’ documentary highlights how service dogs helps military veterans

October 29, 2019

The following is a press release:

To Be of Service
“To Be of Service” (Photo courtesy of First Run Features)

“To Be of Service”

Opening In Theaters in New York on November 1 and in LA on November 8, 2019

Featuring Original Song by Grammy Award-winning artist Jon Bon Jovi

Featuring Military Veterans and Their Service Dogs: Greg Kolodziejczyk and Valor, Sylvia Bowersox and Timothy, Tom Moody and Mako, Brandon Lewis and Booth, Phil Bauer and Champ, Walter Parker and Jackson

Directed by Academy Award nominated filmmaker Josh Aronson (“Sound and Fury”)

Documentary explores the remarkable life changes resulting from the
introduction of trained service dogs into the lives of military veterans
suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Many veterans’ experience of returning home is wrought with depression and a wrenching disconnect from the world they once knew. Family, old friends and jobs seem foreign and the newly returned men and women struggle to function and return to a normal civilian life. Often the meds and therapy provided by the VA hasn’t helped these veterans imprisoned by the wounds of trauma, and they suffer trying to handle even the most mundane of daily tasks. Then, for the lucky ones who are
paired with a service dog, the unconditional love and support offered by these highly trained canines become the bedrock for them to re-engage with the outside world and to learn to feel again. In addition to providing constant companionship, these dogs help veterans navigate their fears. They help them sleep without night terrors, they support them as they face their daily challenges, and, over time, they restore their ability to feel safe, to be independent, to trust and to love again.

In “To Be Of Service” we cross the country to meet veterans just before they are paired with their service dog and learn how profoundly difficult their lives have been. We follow as they are paired with their dog and will re-visit these new battle buddies over the months to see how this deeply bonded friendship brings a return to independence and love for these men and women who have been so traumatized by war.

Since Vietnam the VA has worked to develop treatment programs for veterans suffering from PTSD, including therapy and medications, but, as yet, there is no universally effective protocol. The VA launched a pilot program evaluating the benefits of service dogs for PTSD, which has taken many years to complete, but their conclusions have still not been announced and as yet the VA will not sanction service dogs as a treatment for PTSD and no funding will be forthcoming for dogs.