Originally posted on Little Peckers Blog
Parrots for Patriots
In an innovative project, rescue birds are helping military veterans to cope with their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and their struggle to adapt to life outside of the armed forces.
A New Normal
Many retired veterans find civilian life extremely difficult. They can feel that their lives lack structure and purpose and that it is difficult to be proactive in creating a new normal. Life is even harder for those suffering from PTSD following active service.
Birds for Veterans
Parrots for Patriots is a charity founded in the US by Chris Driggins. He has placed more than 90 birds with veterans since launching the charity in 2015. Most of the birds have been rescue animals which have suffered hardship in the shape of cruelty or neglect. The project has proved to be a fabulous way to help both the birds and the veterans.
A New Focus
Parrots are demanding pets which require a great deal of attention and it is this fact which has made the project so successful. The veterans are given a new purpose in life and appreciate the responsibility of caring for their birds. They are forced to devote a lot of time to their pets and to establish a routine. The birds are extremely needy and their demanding natures distract the veterans from their own issues, give them something to do and enable them to focus on something other than themselves.
The birds are highly intelligent which means that the veterans can develop a meaningful relationship with them and this helps with their self-esteem. The animals are non-judgemental and so enable their keepers to feel relaxed and accepted.
The Right Birds
Chris Driggins takes great care to ensure that he finds the right birds for each new owner. Veterans are required to complete a questionnaire and to take classes in parrot care. They must also meet a bird several times before Driggins decides whether or not the chemistry is right. In the end, it comes down to how the bird reacts. Thus far, the new partnerships have proved extremely successful and the veterans are building lasting relationships with their animals.
The veterans are certainly benefitting from their relationships with the parrots but the charity’s work is also important for the birds. There are a huge number of abandoned parrots seeking new homes. Many people acquire a parrot and then discover that the birds are simply too demanding. In addition, parrots have long lifespans which means that many outlive their owners and then need new homes.
Pets for Life
However, the longevity of the parrots is a major boon when it comes to helping the veterans. The last thing that they need is to build a bond with a pet and then suffer the trauma of losing their animal. With parrots living up to eighty years, they can literally become a pet for life. Parrots for Patriots is a fabulous project. Hopefully, Chris Diggins’ lead will be followed in the UK where there are also many parrots looking for homes and veterans needing a new purpose in life.