Heritage Action for America intern and former Marine Corporal Cole Thomas Lyle returned from a 400-day deployment to Afghanistan in November 2011. Like many other veterans, Cole initially believed he was completely healthy when he returned. But he was wrong.
Cole attended a Texas Rangers baseball game to celebrate with friends only days after making it back home. He was caught off guard, though, when the stadium set off fireworks, causing him to hit the ground and cover his head with his hands.
Shaken up by the incident, Cole underwent a Post-Deployment Health Assessment and was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The VA immediately put him on a combination of anti-depressants and sleeping pills, and sent him to a psychiatrist. But Cole believes these “solutions” only made his symptoms worse.
Two years after his original diagnosis, Cole was finally given another option, one that arguably has saved his life: a service dog named Kaya.
There was just one problem. The VA does not currently allow veterans suffering from conditions like PTSD to qualify for service dogs. Despite the fact that on average, 22 veterans commit suicide every day, and reports show that prescription drug treatments drive up those numbers, the VA refuses to provide alternative treatments like service animals. That means most veterans would have to pay for this type of treatment out of pocket.
Cole now has a new mission. He is setting out to change these statistics and to help his fellow veterans. Partnering with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Cole is working to introduce the Pups for Veterans Relief Act to Congress. This legislation would expand the VA’s definition of “service animal” to include dogs that assist veterans with symptoms of PTSD.
Cole is doing everything he can to spread awareness. He has already appeared twice as a guest on One America News Network’s “On Point with Tomi Lahren.” Kaya joined him for the last interview to discuss how these animals could be the key to helping veterans with PTSD and to lower the number of veteran suicides.
Cole’s fight has also been featured in The Daily Signal. He plans to keep pushing forward with the goal of helping save fellow veterans with dogs like Kaya.