To Be Of Service is a feature-length documentary film about war veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) who are paired with a service dog to help them regain their lives. These vets’ experience of returning home is often wrought with depression and a wrenching disconnect from the world they once inhabited. Family, old friends and jobs seem foreign and the newly returned men and women struggle to function and return to a civilian normal.
Since the Viet Nam era, the Veteran’s Administration (VA) has worked to develop treatment programs for vets suffering from PTSD including therapy and medications, but as yet there is no universally effective protocol. The VA has engaged in a multi-year study into the use of service dogs for PTSD but they have not announced their conclusions and continue to deny funding them as a treatment for PTSD.
It is only through extraordinary personal effort and scholarship programs that thousands of vets have been paired with trained service dogs and the outcomes have been life changing. Our film provides an unvarnished look at what happens to people who are forced to endure the traumatizing violence of war and how service dogs can aid them in their struggle to come home.
As opposed to therapy dogs or emotional support animals (ESA), who not required to learn tasks, service dogs are trained to do specific tasks that mitigate the physical or psychological handicap of their handler.
Service dogs can alert to seizures or a high glucose level in diabetics, help a blind person negotiate the world, turn on a light switch and pick up something from the floor.
To Be Of Service will be shown November 1 through 7 at the Cinema Village in New York City. Filmmaker Josh Aronson will be in attendance at the premiere on Friday, Nov. 1, and Saturday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m., with Q&A sessions following the screenings. Click here to purchase tickets, and here to set up educational, community, nonprofit, festival, or theatrical screenings.
The trailer includes a new untitled original song from New Jersey rock icon Jon Bon Jovi, who sings: “God of mercy, god of light / save your children from this life / hear these words, this humble plea / for I have seen the suffering / with this prayer I’m hoping / that we can be unbroken.”
We hope that viewers will join in supporting legislation to require the Veterans Administration to pay for service dogs for military veterans who suffer from PTSD.