Latest News – April 2024

02 Apr

Assistance Dog program a life-changer

Posted by: Neville Wilkinson

I am fortunate to be the first recipient of a PTSD Assistance Dog through the Blue Ribbon Assistance Dog initiative – in partnership with Fighting PTSD VicPol, the Code 9 Foundation and Assistance Dogs Australia to whom I am extremely grateful, as this program has made such a significant change to my life. 

I was diagnosed with PTSD in March 2021 and due to ill health I retired from VicPol in November 2022, after 22 years in the job.

I thoroughly enjoyed my career and was fortunate enough to have a seamless and well supported exit onto the ESSS pension. I didn’t attempt to return to VicPol after my diagnoses and instead threw myself into my recovery. 

In January 2023 I became aware of the Blue Ribbon Assistance Dog Program and after talking myself out of it a millions times and overthinking it completely I finally decided to apply for a dog. Fast forward to October 2023 and I have a beautiful assistance dog called Fallon matched to me. Fallon is now my regular sidekick and accompanies me everywhere. Kids sport, their school – where I now volunteer in the classroom a few hours a week, shopping, the gym and caravanning. I am doing things now that I could not undertake before. I can’t completely explain why, but when he is out with me in public, somehow, my PTSD is often under control. 

The purpose of this post is to reach out to other Retired VicPol Veterans (with a PTSD diagnosis) and encourage them to think about the benefits of an assistance dog. Blue Ribbon and Fighting PTSD Victoria have funded dogs in training right now and are keen to match suitable applicants.  I am more than happy for anyone to PM me and ask me any questions, have a chat about it etc.  Check out the link below and have a read of the application form, then hit me up with any questions / fears / worries you have via messenger. Here are a few things that swirled around my head: 

• My PTSD is not bad enough for an assistance dog. There is someone worse who needs one so I’ll leave it for them. 

• It’s too hard to fill out the application form. 

• Everyone will stare at me when I am in public with a dog with a jacket on.

• What if I get the dog then decide I don’t want it. 

• I can’t possibly travel interstate for a week-long course to get my dog

• I do not want to pick up dog poo! 

There are solutions to most of the above questions and likely to most of the questions / worries you may have (except for the dog poo one. I have had to get used to picking it up!)

An Assistance Dog is not for everyone but if you think it may be for you then please get in touch with the Blue Ribbon Foundation or directly with me. Can I also add that the level of confidentiality and compassion by the Blue Ribbon Foundation and ADA was exceptional.


Cherie Arnell